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Parents Asked to Volunteer Labour in Renovating Public Schools

Reports indicate that as schools reopen, many of them are struggling with dilapidated structures ruined over the last two years when the buildings were not in use. Schools in Uganda have been closed for close to two years, as one of the measures undertaken by the government to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A roof top blown off by wind at Ngandu RC primary school in Mukono Central Division.

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Authorities in Mukono district have appealed to parents to offer voluntary labour to renovate public and government-aided school structures ahead of school reopening. 

Reports indicate that as schools reopen, many of them are struggling with dilapidated structures ruined over the last two years when the buildings were not in use. Schools in Uganda have been closed for close to two years, as one of the measures undertaken by the government to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the Ministry of Education and Sports has allowed Chief Administrative Officers to divert money meant for capitation grants to renovations of school structures. A sum of 1.1 billion Shillings was allocated to Mukono District under the capitation grant and the authorities have now allocated 1.5 million Shillings for the emergency renovations to each of the schools.

There are more than 200 public and government-aided schools in the District. Mukono Chief Administrative Officer James Nkata says that much as the money received can cater for immediate renovations such as slashing and painting, it is not enough to cater for other required materials to renovate especially public schools in the most devastating condition.

According to Nkata, the government is identifying the required construction materials for emergency renovations, which will be done without following the normal procurement processes due to a lack of time. He adds that now that the government has worked on the hardest part, parents should come in and offer support to create a good environment for learners.

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The Resident District Commissioner Fatumah Ndisaba Nabitaka re-echoes the CAO’s call saying since fewer funds have been allocated so far, the community should come in and directly participate in doing some work physically.

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Ibrahim Kitenda, a resident at Ngandu in Mukono Central Division says few parents have time to support government works at the time they are also struggling to earn a daily meal.

“We have seen the government diverting funds to things they are not able to explain, now it has come to school resumption and they went silent well knowing that education is still a key to our country’s development whose funding should be a priority other than inconveniencing the already struggling parents,” Kitenda explanations. 

Nonetheless, some of the headteachers in Mukono say that the allocated money is too little to handle emergency renovations at their schools and they are sceptical whether they will even reopen. The Head Teacher for Nsonga Church of Uganda Primary School, Betty Sserunjogi says the allocated money cannot be used to renovate the three classroom blocks which developed cracks.

She notes that the school currently lacks space for accommodating pupils in the seven classes as well as catering for basic school utilities. The money diverted to renovations has always been by schools to procure instructional materials, facilitate co-curricular activities, school management, and payment for utilities like electricity and water.

Another headteacher, Josephine Nabuyongo says the allocated money of 1.5 million Shillings per school needs to be tripled for the start to renovate seven classes.                                 

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