Programme: COMMON MATTERS  - CSO Partner: ISER (Initiative for Social and Economic Rights)

The contracting of private schools by the government results in Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) between the Ugandan government and privately-owned, often profit-driven secondary schools. PPP schools receive USE capi- tation grants from the government to provide free secondary education to students. There is a broad consensus among all USE stakeholders that the current USE grant per student (UGX 94.000/$26 per student per year) is way too low to provide quality education. As a consequence, secondary schools are forced to charge non-tuition fees.

What we did.

The complex state of affairs where USE PPP schools receive both non-tuition fees and capitation grants is a fertile breeding ground for corrupt practices. The situation is worsened by limited (enforcement of) guidelines for accountability practices for USE grants. One of the solutions for improving the situation are revised guidelines on USE accountability combined with bottom-up monitoring of USE schools by parents and students.

ISER and TRAC FM set out to involve citizens in the debate around accountability and their perspectives on the USE system. As results on the next page show, radio listeners lack confidence and do not feel well-informed on how USE schools spend their money. It also seems that just a small percentage of respondents will pick a school based on how it is governed.

Following radio polls and talk-shows, TRAC FM and ISER initiated an online discussion with policymakers, academics, and civil society members. The group concluded that both parents and students need to be involved in the accountability processes and that the Ministry of Education (MoES) should take up the recommendation for stronger bottom-up monitoring by parents and students in their policy review of PPP schools. Moses Maena Musingo, Senior Education Officer at the MoES and one of the chat members, acknowledged that “there are many weaknesses in the accountability practices of PPP schools. The MoES should complete the policy review of PPP schools before contracting new ones.” Also, he invited ISER to take part in the ongoing PPP policy review.