UGANDA: EDUCATIONISTS REJECT GOVERNMENT ORDER TO RETURN SCHOOL SECOND TERM CAPITALIZATION GRANT

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Omoro DEO, Rev. Vincent Ocheng-Ocen

Returning the money is like putting the rope in your neck, Ministry of Education has ordered District Education officers in Acholi Sub Region to return capitation grant to the treasury     

Can you imagine the Education ministry has ordered that education grant for second term be remitted back to the treasury, and yet if we are to take the money back. We have to top up the caption fund because of bank interests.

World Vision International, an NGO working in Northern Uganda has come out to bail out school pupils during lock down.

GULU-UGANDA: The District Education Officer for Omoro Rev. Vincent Ocheng Ochen has appealed to the Ministry of Education to consider re-opening school since Health Ministry has given 32 condition and they as District Education Office for Omoro have come up with 28 pre-condition for opening of schools.

“The education in Acholi Sub Region has suffered this time of Global COVID-19 pandemic more than during the two decades LRA conflict in Northern Uganda. 490 school pupils became expectant girl child, and we are now in total zero learning situation” Rev. Ocheng Ochen wondered.

Omoro District Education Officer says currently primary schools in his area has to return UGX 190 million (US$ 52100) capitation grant, while 7 Senior Secondary School will lose UGX 140 million (US$ 38400) for the second term. The total loss that education is facing in capitation grant for the second term that should have been ending in August this year 2020 amount to UGX 330 million (US$90410).

“We have 68 primary schools in Omoro and we are not able to maintain even water sanitation in the next year 2021, because now most of the boreholes in these primary schools will be nonfunctioning as we do not have money to repair them. Can’t you imagine that we have lost 493 pupils who got pregnant? We are suffering more in this global COVID-19 pandemic period than during LRA over two decade’s unrest” Rev. Ocheng Ochen

The school Capitalization grant varies from school to school, for a case of Agweno Primary School, second term Universal Primary Education grant gets UGX 1 million (US$ 274) while bigger primary Schools get Capitation Grant higher of UGX 4 million (US$ 1100) per schools

 Adding that the most important things that ministry of Education are not looking at that schools needs like maintaining  skeleton staff to keep at schools, we have to employ security guards to mind schools and also the schools compounds are to be kept clean.

He also reasons that only 10 percent of pupils have access to learning through radio and Television programs and this is mainly with pupils who live within urban area near Gulu City.

The District Education Officer urged that the School learning program, lesson through radio programs in rural community like in Omoro District face problems such as access to dry cell and also access to radio by the poor parents also hinder the learningprocess.

Akena Caesar, Gulu District Education Officer is optimistic about the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down, says so far as Gulu District Education Office is, his office is monitoring school learning programs both on radio and Television.

“For me I don’t look at negativity. Whoever told you that the Ministry of Education ordered for the retuning capitalization grant did he show you the order paper.” Akena fumed before hanging up his phone.

Dickson Ojok, Secretary for Education in Pader Local Government, decries that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected education standard more than before.

Adding that it has affected 932 girls who got pregnant during the pandemic, according to him he has done head count Pader district and his finding are as follow:

In the Sub County of Laguti 22 school girls got pregnant, Angagura Sub County 58 pregnant school girls, Atanga Sub County his report finding shows that there are 135 school girls who got pregnant, Awere Sub County 85 school girls got pregnant, Laguti Sub County 34 school girls got pregnant. Other are Lapul 69 schoolgirls and Ogom Sub County 41 school girls.

Francis Olwoch, the District Education Officer commented that for them in Pader they have not remitted the Capitalization grant to the ministry of education saying they have used it on COVID activities hence they have not been affected by the program

Olwoch says when the letter came they had already transferred the money to local government saying thus “when we received the order from the Ministry of Education, we were advised to use the money for COVID-19 pandemic” he says.

“We wrote the letter back to Ministry of Education and bought mooing machine to keep all schools clean, and the ministry agreed that we should do according to our programs.” Olwoch urged.

Olwoch reiterates that they have implemented Ministry of Education’s 38 the pre-condition to re-open school directive by Dr.Ruth Jane Aceng Minister of Health that is stipulated the Standard Operation Procedure.

In a schools where PASCAR Program for schools construction is being done in Pader District, the construction company have constructed classrooms that can accommodate pupils are per standard operation procedure need for social distance for COVID-19 pandemic.

17 years old, Emmanuel Oloya, Senior four student from Gulu Senior Secondary School in Gulu is reading very hard and he wants to become an Electrical Engineer.

Oloya says is reading at night when a lot of noise is not there, when people are settle. And he reads science book like physic, mathematic although he balance with social study.

Oloya’s worry is that a lot of gir student and pupils during the COVID-19 pandemic many of them got pregnant, “I am sorry to say that the number could reach 5,000 girls.” Oloya admitted.

“My advices to my fellow students is that they should read hard during this lock-down, so that when they the lock down is lifted we go back to school when we are the same pace.”

Charles Ojangole, the Program Coordinator of World Vision International says one things that we must ensure that the safety and security of all children is the responsibility of all stakeholders.

He argues that we cannot talk in isolation since we need to protect the life of these children. It time that we protect the girl child from being defiled. It’s an issue that requires us to work together with the government, cultural, religious leader and children themselves

“World Vision has a number of programs to strengthen partnership with the local community and all institutions to end violence against children. We have been sensitizing community through Acholi cultural chiefdom (Ker Kwaro Acholi). We have been engaging with stakeholders to provide safety with children”, says Ojangole.

“We don’t want children to lose hope. We want them to continue with mental engagement so that their capacity and potential can mature. We believe that when we engage them, they can do better when the schools are re-opened.

Ojangole reveals that the home learning materials are donated by the USA and the Uganda government. Teachers are going to provide physical support with those children under the Children Voices and Action (CVA).

 Geoffrey Moses Owot, a Gulu University Don from the Faculty of Business, in the Department of Economic and Statistic commented that the economic aspect of COVID-19 pandemic, when we talk of economic impact then we should also looking in value for money.

He further argues that we always want to improve on latrine, keeping compound clean and pay school security to guard school facilities. However, if the school took back the money, they will begin from little far or some schools which did not took back the money they are better off than, when the schools term begin.

 

 

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