As the budget reading gets closer for the new Financial Year 2014/15, many Ugandans have expectations that could be or not be met by the budget projections for the next financial year.
According to the National Budget Frame work Paper for the FY 2014/15, Uganda’s total external debt exposure has increased from USD 2.45bn in June 2007 to USD 6.40bn in December 2013.
The domestic debt in the FY 2014/15 is UGX 1,642.2bn and this will make the repayment process even harder putting into consideration that the total expenditure on interest payment is UGX 1,104.8bn on both the domestic and external debt in the FY2014/15.
As Uganda Debt Network, we are concerned with this debt magnitude because this in the end affects different sectors and now focusing more on the Education Sector.
In the National Budget Framework Paper that is in Parliament for discussion and approval, it’s shocking that the education sector has been unjustly given low funds putting into consideration the apparent poor performance that was displayed in the FY 2013/14 especially under Universal Primary Education.
The proposed Education budget has been reduced by UGX 62.2bn from 13.5% (UGX 1,761.6bn) to 11.9% (UGX 1,699.4bn) which also means the capitation grant for UPE will reduce from UGX 7,000/= per child per year to UGX 6800/= per year making it about UGX 25/= everyday and UGX 2,265/= per term per child and yet we expect the pupils to survive on this meager fee and be able to perform excellently which in my opinion is a myth.
In 2013, of all the 560, 784 candidates who sat for the final exams, only 52, 786 passed in divisionone.A total of 247, 507 students were in division two, 125, 292 in division three while 68, 554 made division four.About 66, 645 pupils failed and were not graded. It was indicated that in about 5,022 primary schools there was no candidate with first grade and now that the budget proposal shows a reduction in the education budget, we await to see what will happen to the pupil’s performance in the FY2014/15.
Budget for Special needs education has continued to reduce to 0.012% of the entire Education budget to the detriment of People living with Disabilities (PWDs) which is absurd. According to a report by National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda, PWDs are faced with limited funding which has led to the lack of adequate special facilities, special skilled teachers and face discrimination which has to some extent forced the disabled children to drop out of school.
The old saying that “Education is the Key” at this rate might be an illusion if no effort is put in the budgeting process by our leaders to ensure the Education budget is reconsidered before the budget reading so as to empower our children with quality education and motivate our teachers to teach without the constant industrial actions which affect the pupils’ studying consistency. There is need for Government to consider increasing the capitation grant to at least UGX 10,000/= for a start to effectively cater for the pupils needs in school. Teachers’ welfare cannot be left out if we are looking at improved performance in schools and better education system. It’s time to reconsider Government priorities if we are expecting to have good service delivery in the near Future.
For God and My Country.
The writer works with Uganda Debt Network.