We are working to regulate it- gov’t defends self in court case over exorbitant school fees

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Government has defended itself in a case in which it was sued for failure to regulate fees charged by schools and institutions of higher learning in the country.

Two lawyers including Michael Aboneka and Andrew Karamagi together with officials from the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER) dragged government to court for failure to exercise its mandate to regulate tuition fees and non-tuition requirements.

However, in its defence, government through an affidavit sworn by Irumba Roger Kaija, the undersecretary in the Ministry of Education and Sports said in April 2221 it constituted a committee of technical officers to draft statutory instruments to regulate among others school fees.

“The committee will regulate fees and school charges payable in pre-primary, primary and post-secondary institutions. The committee will also look into the composition, procedures, and functions of boards of governors, management committees, their establishment and appointment,” Irumba said in the affidavit.

The Education Ministry undersecretary also noted that the committee will also look into the management and governance of educational institutions in the context of the Covid pandemic.

“The committee has also considered the prevailing circumstances in the education sector and is in the final process of issuing statutory instruments concerning the regulation of affairs therein.”

On Monday, when the case came up for hearing, Justice Philip Odoki told the Attorney General that since there are issues that he agrees with the applicants, both parties ought to sit and agree on the timelines in which to implement some of the issues.

“Court asked the Attorney General to sit with us to agree on timelines within which they will make the regulations come into force. Court has also given us until Tuesday, March, 1, 2022 to see if we can meet, discuss and agree on the matter. We will also be coming back for scheduling,” Michael Aboneka, one of the applicants.

Differ

He said whereas in its reply government said it is working on regulations for excessive school fees, the same is not taking institutions of higher learning into consideration.

“One of things we don’t agree with from the Attorney General is that the regulations are for school fees for pre-primary, primary and secondary school but our application is covering universities, education institutions and international schools. There are areas they are seeming to agree with us and there are others we differ,”Aboneka said.

He noted that both parties will return on March to give court an update on the case to see a way forward.

“It is important that the Minister  of Education and Sports does her job. The act was put in place in 2008 but you cant tell me that for over 12 years you don’t have a regulation for fees. Ugandan parents who cant afford to pay the exorbitant schools fees are interested in this case.”

Aboneka said they want the regulations to be put in place before the beginning of the second term, adding that the meeting with the Education Ministry will be on timelines to have the school fees regulations in time.

 

 

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