Students from 48 schools within Kampala will not be reporting to continue with their education when the first term opens following a recommendation by Kampala Capital City Authority to have them closed. According to KCCA, these do not meet the basic requirements and minimum standards as per the specifications of the Ministry of Education and Sports. The Education Act 2008, section 36 (4) provides for closure of schools where safety, health and security of learners is at stake.
This is only a small fraction of schools that continue to operate despite having wanting standards, not only in Kampala but in various parts of Uganda. This action is commendable and should be emulated in different parts of the country. Many substandard schools are characterised by dilapidated infrastructure that is unsafe for children, some lack sanitation facilities or have those in poor state. In Lulongo Primary School in Mubende District, for instance, female pupils forced to share latrines with male pupils, abandoned classes.
Many schools still do not have licenses and continue to employ ill qualified teachers. While local investment of the private sector in education is encouraged, that there should be quality control is paramount.
As the new school year begins in a few weeks, focus must be put on quality control by the directorate of education and social services whose mandate is to ensure quality of these learning institutions is commendable.
Local leadership should not be duped by school owners, who hunger for profits disregarding the need to give quality education to learners. They must spear head the hunt for substandard schools in their areas and also discourage parents from taking their children to these schools.
While the body in charge of non-state education through their national secretary Mr Patrick Kaboyo condemned this closure and called for regulation, such drastic action should set the pace for change. Bodies that oversee non-state education must not wait for the axe to fall before seeking reform. They must work hand in hand with other stake holders to ensure that members are following the right guidelines in order to meet their profit goals as well as provide the service to the population from the word go.
Sensitisation of parents is also critical. Although many parents are driven to take their children to such schools due to poverty, the ministry needs to create awareness of the dangers of exposing children to such an education and provide workable solutions.
Education is a key service in society, the standards therefore need to be upheld at all levels.
The issue: Quality education
Our view: As the new school year begins in a few weeks, focus must be put on quality control by the directorate of education and social services whose mandate is to ensure quality of these learning institutions is commendable.