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Uganda: Education Minister closes non-compliant private schools

published 19 August 2016 updated 5 September 2016

Uganda’s government has announced the closure of non-compliant private schools - a bold stand for quality education, according to the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU), an affiliate of Education International (EI).

In a statement to Parliament on August 8 on the operations of the Uganda Bridge International Academies, the First Lady and Education Minister, Janet Kataha Museveni, announced the closure of all the school sites under the company’s management at the end of this school term. The decision is a response to a technical inspection report by various official agencies that revealed poor hygiene and sanitation in the schools, putting the life and safety of their pupils at risk.

Litany of complaints

The Minister also underlined that, in line with the submissions to Parliament of Margaret Rwabushaija Namubiru, National Chairperson of UNATU and Member of Parliament, the schools were located in 63 sites of which only one was properly registered with the Ministry. The rest “never underwent the criteria for registering and licensing international schools”, she said. In addition, “the infrastructure of the schools is still in a bad state [and] there were also reports on teachers without professional training and non-conformity to the Ugandan Curriculum. The instructional materials used could not promote teacher-pupil interaction,” she added.

UNATU: Quality vital

Following the Minister’s announcement, the UNATU General Secretary, James Tweheyo, welcomed the decision to “take a stand for our learners” and gave its approval of the closure. “As a union, we strongly believe that our learners will have no future if we do not do anything about the quality of education today,” he said.

UNATU demands that the government upholds standards and minimum requirements not only from Bridge Academies but other schools as well. This involves supporting the expertise and operation of the inspectorates that work to ensure compliance with national standards. The union also highlights the importance of ensuring the transfer of pupils to existing schools and the need to support parents and families as that transfer is arranged.

EI: Schools must comply with national standards

EI’s General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, has highlighted the international education community's support for EI's Ugandan affiliate. "We fully support UNATU in resisting the spread of for-profit schooling in their country," he said "In the event that schools are being closed, we expect the authorities in Uganda to take their responsibilty and ensure that students are given a place in the public school system, as they are entitled to free quality education and to be taught by qualified teachers."