Gov’t urged to increase funding, Prioritize Education to Administrative Centres

Arua | The local leaders in Arua and civil society organization representatives have urged the government of Uganda to consider increasing local government funding for better service delivery.

The leaders noted that most districts across the country are grappling with the challenge of inadequate funding which has affected all the sectors with the worst hit being the education sector.   

The observation was made on Tuesday during the presentation and discussion on good governance and accountability at Heritage Courts Hotel in Arua town.The meeting which was aimed at getting feedback on the strengthening performance and accountability through community engagement (SPACE) project is being implemented by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS).

The project is co-funded by the European Union through the Office of the Prime Minister and it runs in six project action districts of Gulu, Moroto, Napak, Lira, Amuria and Arua.

The project aims to improve the status of accountability, service delivery and gender responsiveness at the local government level.In the six districts, in order to achieve the goal, the project undertook a district-peer review mechanism to evaluate each district’s performance in several categories.

As a result, Julian Marembo, an official of KAS said Arua scored a 3.0, indicating significant shortcomings in accountability. She said the survey unraveled high levels of corruption and tolerance towards corruption thus little has been done to combat it.

“Local governments are right now limping. You remember we used to have what is called Parish Development Committees and they are still in place, and what used to be the practice is that you call people of the parish, they must sit to analyze their situations, come up with their priorities and these priorities are given to local governments to address,” Wilfred Saka, the Terego district chairperson said in his feedback.

“And overtime, these priorities kept remaining on paper why? Because local governments don’t have adequate sources of funds to address these needs. So, if you have not addressed my problems I gave you yesterday, you are again today calling me to come and tell you my problems. Why should I waste my time?” Saka wondered.

He said this brings apathy in the community, adding that it is one of the cardinal reasons why people are not participating in most of the government programs.  

“So, you and I should join hands to appeal to the central government that local governments are the face of government. When a borehole breaks down, the first persons who are called are from local government, so let us start building the capacity of local governments with resources to respond to the immediate needs of the community,” Saka appealed.

Similarly, Ronald Drani, the Arua district Senior Education Officer implored the government to prioritize education, saying it is one of the greatest sectors in Uganda with the greatest number of employees currently standing at about 62 per cent.

“This morning before I reached here, I passed by a school and found children sitting on the floor right from the back to the blackboard where the teacher is supposed to stand. On the desk children are packed. Do you expect quality service delivery in that kind of classroom yet at the end of seven years, they will measure the DEO, the Inspector of schools and the Headteacher by the number of first grades produced? But now go and see how the foundation is, which is supposed to produce these first grades,” Drani said.

“I want to implore the government through the RDC’s office that we need to prioritize education. Our infrastructure has remained stagnant in schools but the population of pupils continues to increase every year, even the number of teachers is stagnant because there is a staff ceiling. One teacher is teaching on average 150 pupils in a classroom, how do you expect the individual differences of these learners to be identified in terms of quality service delivery?” Drani asked.

However, Robert Ocen, the Arua Deputy RDC said the dialogue was very important for the stakeholders to air out some of the issues affecting the people in the community.

He promised that many of the issues raised regarding accountability, democracy and the rule of law among others will be taken seriously by the government.

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