A section of Members of Parliament are calling for a Shs100 million recovery package to assist schools and other institutions of learning as they plan to re-open.
Legislators argue that the two year closure of these institutions due to the Covid-19 pandemic has crippled private institutions’ ability to continue in service delivery, a reason government must come in with a rescue plan.
“We are saying give each private school Shs100 million to be able to start, to paint, to clean the school and also prepare,” said Hon Michael Mawanda (NRM, Igara East). He added that, ‘some schools have lost property yet their main source of income is school fees from parents who have also been affected by the pandemic’.
He guided that the offer should be made to private schools that meet certain criteria set by government.
Mawanda explained that it will be hard for most private education institutions to mobilise funds and pay staff arrears, renovate the dilapidated structures and be able to provide education services.
“Mobilising money to start in this short time is not easy because even banks are reluctant to lend schools money because they are not sure whether schools will be able to pay,” he said.
He called on government to also support the schools in offsetting salary loans obtained by teachers who have failed to meet their obligations.
“Schools guarantee loans for their workers; these are salary loans and workers have not been working. The banks have recalled the guarantees and it is the schools to pay these loans,” he said.
Mawanda said this while appearing before the Committee on Education and Sports on Tuesday, 09 November 2021. He was accompanied by Kyankwazi Woman MP, Hon Christine Sendawula and Mityana North MP, Hon Muhamad Nsegumire. The three moved a motion urging government to provide a recovery package for private education institutions.
They clarified that private education institutions are not seeking for free money, but a loan that would either be refunded in a long run when schools have stabilised or at interest free.
They also proposed tax incentives to private schools where government would waiver the payments or have them staggered for a period.
“Government can say you have been paying income tax but in the next three years do not pay; they can either waive the payment or stagger the payment to assist these schools jump start,” Mawanda added.
The Committee Vice-chairperson, Hon Cuthbert Abigaba re-echoed the need for government to ‘rescue’ private institutions, but wondered if the parents and learners would benefit from the incentives.
“We know the schools are struggling but how do the rest of the stakeholders benefit from these incentives? How does the parent expect to benefit from this incentive because the pandemic has also hit parents?’ asked Abigaba.
Hon Sendawula said the ultimate beneficiary for the incentives are students, recognising that private institutions consume the majority of the educational needs in the country.
MPs want school fees to be reduced both in government and private schools as a move to assist parents who lost jobs and businesses due to the Covid-19 lock down.