By Eunice Nankwanga Kasirye
What is on my mind are the children, countrywide, who keep missing out on their Uganda National Examinations at all levels because school directors did not remit their registration fees to Uganda National Examination Board (UNEB).
In reaction to the unfortunate incidences, UNEB says pupils who missed exams could register to write next year papers. Meanwhile, directors who are probably still on run should be apprehended for prosecution. UNEB, also cautioned parents to always take a caution while making decisions on which schools to take their children to.
But this evil has been going on for so many years. The ministry of Education, the police, UNEB, parents and whoever is concerned is well aware of this vice. Most of the victims of this evil are children who end up in makeshift schools which mushroom day and night without a clear road map on how they intend to have a sustainable operation. The major reason why parents opt for these schools is they come with enticing and seemingly manageable costs for schools fees and other dues.
The parents often choose these risky schools because they can’t afford the well established schools dues. These are parents who struggle to keep their children at school despite the biting poverty they live in.
If you really want to know what these parents go through, speak to the administrators of these schools. The children study on frequent pleadings from the parents to the school administrators, the parents keep begging the administration to at least allow the children attend class as they craft something from which to earn some money to clear school fees.
Some parents make batter trade where food items are supplied at the school in exchange for a child’s school fees. Therefore the victims of this craftiness are not the ‘Haves’ of this country, it is the ‘have-nots’. I think that explains the laxity with which policy makers and enforcers handle this issue.
The only time the checkers of the system will wake up is when one of their own is a victim in some racket vice, at least according to precedence.
Obviously these schools are often private/individual owned. They leverage on loans from microfinance institutions, they rent structures, they have a lot of sensational promotion to attract numbers.
This therefore means that they always operate on a deficit budget and the only time the school has guarantee of cash is when the candidate classes are clearing for Uganda National Examinations and sometimes a biggest number of these children have school fees balances.
A situation like this put the school owners in a very tempting situation to either pick the available cash to clear personal demands or clear for the candidate’s final exams.
I don’t condone the conning of parents and the candidates, but where are the system checkers? We have structures in this country entrusted to inspect the education sector system, where is their check list?
Does anyone out there, in the Ministry of Education for example, understand the trauma subjected to a child made to repeat a class or miss final term examinations?
Uneb understand the dilemma the parents of children who go to such schools are put in. Why is it every year the same vice happens and all we can get are empty threats.
The chances of most of those children to never go back to school are high. Some of them especially the girls will be forced into early marriages, the boys could end up in irresponsible activities to survive and even the morale of a struggling pare/guardian to pay school fees for another year is challenged.
If government has the capacity to monitor everyone’s mobile money transaction to take away a percentage in form of taxes, monitor everyone’s social media activiteis, issues access to examination results, how cant there be a system to verify ones examination registration using mobile phone prompts before the closing date?
If the problem is examination fees, why can’t government just scrap off the cost and use the other so many tax levies on every other thing to cater for the gaps created? Why is it all about money but nothing to tally with the services provided?
When I was growing up I used to see people around schools called Inspectors of schools, do we still have such people in place, if they are still there, what are their job expectations. I think it is important that this government and her agencies started getting serious with the people whose resource they are entrusted with.
Let the Ministry of Education come up with very stringent penalties against the con men in which the parents can recover their money. This would involve withdrawing the school operation, auctioning of the school assets alongside individual prosecution of the culprits.
However, the Ministry should have an emergency time table for candidates who miss final exams for reasons beyond their own making instead of making them repeat for a full year at a full cost.
The writer is a President of International Association of Women in Radio & Television (IAWRT) Uganda Chapter.