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HERE IS WHY BUDDO SCHOOL FEES WAS MOVED FROM 1.7M TO SHS2.5M PER TERM

By Mulengera Reporters

Parents of more than 600 students joining Kings College Buddo for S1 and S5 have had to part with Shs2.5m as school fees for their children’s first term for the academic year 2022 (commencing on 10th January). This represents an outrageous increase from Shs1.7m parents paid previously for their children joining the school for either S1 or S6.

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The prompt payment of the Shs2.5m was a requirement every parent has had to meet before picking their child’s admission letter. Last day for payment and picking of the admission letter was Tuesday 14th December. You either paid up or forfeited your child’s place to the next parent in the queue. Being the prestigious Kings College Buddo, many parents from across Uganda desire to have their child there and indeed thousands apply making Buddo the elite school their first choice.

Knowledgeable sources say that in the last admissions exercise, close to 5,000 students had applied seeking to join Buddo either for their S1 or S5 yet only 150 were admitted for each class. The practice (which many can only whisper about) has for years been that the 150 very best students get admitted through the competitive selection exercise for say S1. And thereafter, slots for another 200 kids are quietly declared for what is called “quota for other stakeholders.”

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This (200 quota) is what the powerful people within the founding body Church of Uganda (basically Namirembe Diocese), Board members and their allies in both State House and Ministry of Education share amongst themselves. Some end up selling these slots to the highest bidder regardless of how excellently the child performed at the preceding UNEB examinations. So lucrative are the Buddo admissions that brokers offer as much as Shs10m or more per slot. Truth is some of the big people in these big places can’t have a child every academic year; so they end up cashing in through these brokers who then link up to desperate parents.

In fact, as we talk now, Namirembe Bishop Kityo Luwalira is stuck with more than 100 petitions from aggrieved parents who claim to have parted with between Shs6m and Shs10m as payment for their children’s S1/S5 admission at Kings College Buddo. Many of them are claiming to have paid brokers who claimed to have influence on then Headmaster Bakka Male who died and was buried in the 2nd week of last month (November). The stranded parents claim to have been under the impression that Male (who died 2 weeks after clocking the mandatory retirement age of 60) would stay long enough to influence the admission of their sons and daughters.

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They are now hitting the roof while demanding a refund of their money yet they can’t explain how such back door deals can become the business of the diocese or even the current management of the school headed by John Fred Kazibwe who has just been transferred from Mengo SS to replace Bakka Male at Buddo. The bitter truth is that such parents should just lie low like an envelope because what they entered into was an illegality over which there are no rights or entitlements that court can enforce.

1.7M TO 2.5M

Back to new fees structure: on being deployed at Buddo, Fred Kazibwe discovered the school was crippled by a lot of financial problems beyond just aggrieved parents demanding their refund. And how did we get here? Bakka Male had been frail and indisposed for more than 5 years, a period during which supervision declined as he rarely had the energy to come to school. Bakka Male, who was also the Board Chairman for Seroma Christian High School, suffered severe stroke which impaired his functionality for the 5 years preceding his death yet ironically officials in both the Central government and Church of Uganda didn’t seem to be in a hurry to have him replaced. He stayed onto the job despite his physical frailty which naturally also impacted on his mental capabilities to appropriately supervise his juniors while making essential decisions for the school’s future.

This frailty was taken advantage of by Bakka Male’s subordinates who contracted debts on behalf of the school. Indeed, a quick audit inquiry conducted after his death revealed that the school was indebted up to over Shs3.5bn. These debts related to unpaid service providers, bank loans and new physical infrastructure which was delivered on credit by contractors who were certain of payment once the Covid19 lock down was circumvented and the school re-opened.

In the subsequent meetings, authorities and concerned stakeholders reflected on the Bakka Male era debts and realized it can only worsen. That is how it was decided to increase school fees from Shs1.7m to Shs2.5m because, after all, being the prestigious Kings College Buddo, there will always be more than enough parents willing to pay fees even as high as Shs10m just to get their child a slot there. The inescapable larger picture relating to all this arbitrary increase of fees is that Buddo, being a pace setter, similar astronomical fees increment could be replicated by less prestigious schools elsewhere and thereby multiplying misery for the poorer parents yet, under NDP III, public goods like quality education must be delivered in a manner that ensures inclusiveness. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us atmulengera2040@gmail.com).

 

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