Kitgum School Remains Closed over Unpaid Teachers' Salaries

1371 Views Kitgum, Uganda

In short
The school was founded by parents and later constructed with funding from Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) in 1996. But its operations were hindered by the parent’s refusal to contribute the Ugx 3,000 that was required from each household to clear teachers’ salaries. The school had six remunerated teachers.

Ogwapoke Parents Primary School in Mucwini Sub County, Kitgum has failed to open its doors to pupils for another term over unpaid teachers' salaries.

The school was founded by parents and later constructed with funding from Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) in 1996. But its operations were hindered by the parent's refusal to contribute the Ugx 3,000 that was required from each household to clear teachers' salaries.  The school had six remunerated teachers.


As a result, the teachers abandoned the profession at the beginning of the year while the pupils were absorbed by neighboring schools.


Today, Uganda Radio Network visited the school and found its large compound turned into a grazing ground for cattle. The offices and classrooms that used to host administration,  teachers, pupils remain locked, casting doubt on the future of the school.


The development is a blow to government's commitments to provide free universal Primary education to all children in Uganda through which communities were encouraged to establish schools that government would support nearer to their children.

Ojara Amos Okol Oywe, a resident of Likol A ward in Ogwapoke Parish is skeptical about the fate of the many young girls who were studying at the school. He says a few of them have already dropped out of school. Some cannot walk long distances from their homes to the most other distant schools, while others cannot brave the rains and sometimes the too much sunshine as they trek to and from their homes, he says.

Okot Rwakasisi Oling, the Ogwapoke parish councilor says parents were still optimistic that the school would open this term. However, the school remains closed with no communication from any of the administrators.


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Geoffrey Oguti, the Mucwini sub county councilor says three of such parent schools are struggling to provide services to children in the same Sub County. They are Ogwapoke Parents' school, Orima Parents School and Comboni Parents School. Oguti says government was expected to take over at least 20 community schools in the district by July 2014.

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Oguti says many schools facilities constructed during the height of LRA conflict have remained in former camps for displaced persons. He says it is extremely difficult to convince rural parents to contribute finances for the education of their children under the current free Universal Primary Education policy.
 

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.