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Private School Owners Seek UGX 100m Recovery Fund Per Institution

Education Institutions were first closed on 18th March, 2020 when President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni announced a national lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus. This directly impacted 73,240 government and private preprimary, primary, secondary, tertiary and higher institutions with 15.12 million learners and 548,182 teachers.
Grace highschool in Kasangati

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School owners under the National Private Educational Institutions Association - Uganda (NPEIA-UG) have petitioned parliament seeking recovery Fund of 100 million Shillings per school, as a stimulus package to enable a re-start of operations of the sector.

The Association represents 28,000 private institutions with learner enrolment of 9 million.

Led by their National Chairman, Hasadu Kirabira, the private school owners on Thursday appeared before Parliament’s Education Committee and proposed what they described as a secured Private Educational Institutions Recovery Fund (PEIRF).

This according to Dr. Stephen Waako Muzinge, the National Secretary General is aimed at jump starting functional operations of the sector on health, safety and infrastructure requirements on COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). He told MPs that the standard recovery Fund of 100 million per school is proposed to be payable in a period of not less than 5 years, secured by the school at not more than a 5% interest per annum.

Education Institutions were first closed on 18th March, 2020 when President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni announced a national lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of  COVID-19 virus. This directly impacted 73,240 government and private pre-primary, primary, secondary, tertiary and higher institutions with 15.12 million learners and 548,182 teachers.

These numbers don’t include supporting non-teaching staff, estimated over 300,000 and businesses that support the supply chain of educational institutions. This closure of close to 2 years has left several loans acquired by schools from banks unpaid with accumulated interest.

Now recently, President Museveni said that Primary and Secondary schools would re-open in January 2022 after 4.8 million people in priority and vulnerable groups are fully vaccinated including teachers and 330,000 students aged 18 years and above.

Dr. Waako says that the private education sector has strongly been hit due to the long period of lockdown causing a national despondent glum state of affairs.

He also noted that school owners are deeply indebted and some have lost their schools while others at the verge of losing property.

“Government should put in place a bond to commercial banks to take care of all accrued interest on loans during the period of the lockdown from March 15th, 2929 to December 31st, 2022 recovered after the principle has been settled. The total loan of private educational institutions is likely to be 2.1 trillion and 500 billion accrued interest by end of 2022,” said Dr. Waako.

The School owners also appealed for a cheaper credit line in any of government’s financial institutions.

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Lillian Obiale Paparu, the Arua Woman MP questioned whether all private schools have uniform capacity to absorb the proposed 100 million as a recovery fund. She also wondered whether all private schools were concerned about the proposed figure.

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Cuthbert Abigaba Mirembe, the Education Committee Vice Chairperson asked why parents in private schools will benefit if government avails the 100 million recovery fund to private institutions. He wondered whether schools would reduce the schools fees or not.

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Annet Katusiime, the Bushenyi Woman MP also questioned how prepared the private schools are in regard to the SOPs.

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In response, the Association National Treasurer, Peter Birungi is their recovery fund proposal is accepted, then the modalities of how to distribute it would be put in place.

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Hasadu Kirabira, the Association National Chairman said that also a needs assessment would be used and the modalities for disbursement would be proposed at a later stage.

Speaking about school fees structures, Dr.Sarah Nkonge, the Association Vice Chairperson for Central Region said that private schools charge less fees than government schools which are given funds by government. She added that the fees charged by private schools are commensurate to the quality of education provided to children.

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