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More Voices Urge Gov’t To Increase Funding For Education Sector :: Uganda Radionetwork

More Voices Urge Gov’t To Increase Funding For Education Sector

Records indicate that the current expenditure on the education sector stands at approximately 11.3 percent of the total government expenditure, falling below the benchmark recommended by the Education 2030 Framework for Action. The framework suggests allocating at least 15 to 20 percent of public expenditure towards education.
Young poets from Nakivubo Blue Primary School captivating the audience with their performance at the inaugural National Education Day

Audio 3

The call for increased funding to the education sector took center stage as Uganda observed its first-ever National Education Day.

The celebration occurred at Kololo ceremonial ground, uniting various stakeholders in the sector, including parents, teachers, students, political leaders, technocrats, and development partners. Uganda seized the same occasion to commemorate 27 years of UPE.

From teachers and pupils to other stakeholders, everyone seemed to agree that despite the progress made in the sector over the past three decades, limited funding is undermining these efforts.

Alex Mukisa, a sixth-grade pupil at Nakivubo Blue Primary School, expressed his opinion that the school faces challenges such as a lack of classrooms, teachers, and essential scholastic materials. He believes that if there were sufficient funds available, these issues would have been resolved long ago.

“If the government give our headmaster more money, all the challenge at school can be solved; we get more classrooms, more desks, good books and others,” the youngest told our reporter moments after his school presented a poem on state of education in Uganda. 

As Mukisa highlighted, the education system is grappling with challenges such as insufficient classrooms, leading to overcrowding in rural areas where some learners study under trees or in sheds. There's a growing demand for an increase in the number of teachers to reduce teacher-pupil ratios, as well as calls for higher teacher salaries, improved staff quarters, and other enhancements.

Jamil Mugumya, a teacher, highlighted the critical need for increased funding in the form of the capitation grant that the government provides to schools. He expressed concern that the current amount, which stands at 17,000 shillings, is insufficient to support schools in delivering quality education.

"To be honest with ourselves, 17,000 shillings cannot accomplish much. That's why you often see PTAs imposing additional charges, leading to dropout rates. This needs to be addressed if the government is serious about education," noted the teacher.

The National Planning Authority (NPA), the government's own think tank, has already stated that the current annual capitation grant sent to schools is inadequate to support the delivery of quality education. According to the issues paper submitted to the Education Policy Review Commission, the NPA recommends that the government provide 38,773 shillings per learner per year at pre-primary and primary levels, 351,360 shillings at lower secondary, and 570,220 shillings at upper secondary.

The NPA emphasizes that this funding should be determined primarily by factors such as enrollment rates, inflation, the socioeconomic status of the school, and improved school performance metrics such as completion rates, attendance, and transition rates. This approach aims to ensure that resource allocation aligns with the actual needs of schools and learners.

Jan Sadek, the EU Ambassador to Uganda, speaking on behalf of education development partners, emphasized the crucial importance of investing in the education sector. He stated that such investments would significantly enhance Uganda's human development capital. According to him, a government's ability to educate its citizens serves as a key indicator of its effectiveness in serving the population.

Sadek pointed out that Uganda currently allocates a relatively low amount of resources to education compared to the sector's needs. He warned that this could lead to Uganda lagging behind neighboring countries in terms of educational attainment levels, potentially resulting in missed economic opportunities.

//Cue in; “Uganda allocated...

Cue out... return on investments.”// Records indicate that the current expenditure on the education sector stands at approximately 11.3 percent of the total government expenditure, falling below the benchmark recommended by the Education 2030 Framework for Action. The framework suggests allocating at least 15 to 20 percent of public expenditure towards education.

In addition to improving funding overall, Sadek suggested that the government prioritize allocating more funds to the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector. He emphasized that investing in ECD sets the foundation for learners' future success in school and beyond. According to him, focusing on ECD can also lead to better value for money by improving efficiency in primary education, as better-prepared learners are less likely to repeat grades or drop out.

Currently, the government is essentially providing no funding to the ECD sector. Many education experts have proposed that the government introduce Universal Early Childhood Education (ECE) to ensure that all learners receive proper preparation before entering primary schools.

Janet Museveni, the Minister of Education and Sports in her speech, read by State Minister John Muyingo, highlighted significant milestones achieved as Uganda celebrates Education Day. These milestones include increased access to primary education, with nearly every parish benefiting, among other achievements.

However, she also acknowledged existing challenges such as unequal access, pupil absenteeism, proficiency gaps, and school retention issues. Nevertheless, the government is committed to addressing these challenges and working towards solutions.

//Cue in; “While progress has... Cue out...education in Uganda.”// Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Muyingo reiterated the government's commitment to injecting more funds into the education sector. The primary objective is to ensure that Universal Primary Education (UPE) becomes completely free, along with the implementation of the Universal Secondary Education (USE) policy in the upcoming financial year.

However, Muyingo emphasized that as the government works to increase funding to the sector, parents and learners also have a significant role to play. He highlighted that parents are expected to provide for their children by ensuring they are adequately fed, providing them with uniforms, and supplying the required scholastic materials.

Luganda audio //Cue in; “Buli mwana yenna...

Cue out...buvunanyizibwa bwe.”// According to available information, Cabinet approved an additional budget of Shs1.48 trillion to support the Universal Primary Education (UPE) program from the financial year 2024/2025 to 2027/2028. In the first year, an allocation of Shs309.16 billion is anticipated. 

The funds are intended to address various challenges within the UPE system. A significant focus is on recruiting 78,888 primary teachers to achieve a pupil-teacher ratio of 40:1 in the financial year 2024/25.

This effort is specifically aimed at 12,433 UPE schools that have been grappling with low staffing, often resorting to local contracts, which, in turn, results in additional fees being charged to learners.  Apart from the recruitment of additional teachers, the increased funding is earmarked for local government monitoring and inspection of schools, to address and rectify various challenges within the education system. 

President Yoweri Museveni, in his speech read by Vice President Jessica Alupo, reassured the public that his government recognizes the paramount importance of education as a public good. He underscored that education is integral to facilitating progress across various aspects of development.