Stakeholders in the education sector have called for more private sector involvement in the development and financing of Uganda’s education if efficiency is to be realized.
The call was made on Tuesday during the opening of the 25th Annual Education Sector Review at the Office of the Prime Minister conference hall. The two-day review workshop seeks to take stock of the performance of the sector in the 2017/18 financial year and explore ways of addressing existing bottlenecks.
Minister for Education and Sports, also First Lady, Janet Museveni said that while there was improvement in performance by pupils/students as well as development of infrastructure, the education sector still suffers insufficient resources.
She noted that in the year under review, government with the help of South Korea expanded and equipped 5 technical institutes as well as Ntinda vocational institute as a way of boosting skills development, but that there is need for the private sector to supplement these efforts.
“The Ministry will continue to strengthen the area of skills development in order that learners are equipped with competencies relevant to industry, through the promotion of private sector delivery, governance and financing of skills development,” Minister Janet Museveni said.
The Minister also mentioned that challenges like limited inspection, low participation of parents in the children’s learning as well as scarcity of data still hinder progress.
Uganda remains among countries where education, a sector considered critical to any country’s development is allocated meagre resources. In 2017/18, the sector was allocated Shs 53.6 billion representing 11.37% of the national budget.
This was a 2.7% decline compared to the allocation during the 2016/17 financial year.
Speaking at the same review workshop, Jennie Barugh, the Head of UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), said that it is time for a debate on the potential of private investment and non state support to education in Uganda.
“Domestic and donor resources alone will not be enough to keep pace with the growing population and the demand for new school places,” Jennie Barugh said.
Uganda has highest number of students enrolled in private schools compared to the neighboring countries Kenya and Tanzania.
About 25% of the primary pupils in Uganda attend private primary schools, compared to 11% in Kenya and 2% in Tanzania, Barugh revealed.
“Uganda relies entirely on non state provisions for pre-primary education and over 50% of secondary school students attend some form of private school,” she said.
She noted that there’s a great opportunity to harness the role of the private finance in ensuring effective accountability, quality assurance as well as government regulation especially following the passing of the Public Private Partnership Act of 2016.
In addition, Barugh made a case for the investment in an efficient early childhood education system which she said has dramatic effect on the efficiency in associated costs of primary education, lessening chances of pupil failure rates and reducing inequities.
In presenting the report for 2017/18, Alex Kakooza, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education revealed that there was an increase in the passes registered at UPE and UCE levels by 4.1% and 4%.
The enrollment for pupils in government funded primary schools rose by 3.2% compared to the previous year while that in government funded secondary schools rose by 0.23%.
A total of 5,242 students benefitted from the Students Loan Scheme compared to only 3,794 beneficiaries in 2016/17.
Kakooza also said that up to Shs 324.5 billion has been invested in the development of physical infrastructure (majority of it in secondary schools) in abid to increase access to education. But the pupil to classroom ratio remains at 70:1 yet government needs this to come down to 40:1.