Mukono. Government has withdrawn its funding to the two schools that were recently merged by Mukono Diocese leaders into one private boarding primary school.
The schools in question are Bishop’s West Primary School and Bishop’s Central Primary School that were previously receiving Universal Primary Education funding from the central government before they were merged into one called Bishop’s West Boarding Primary School.
The government also recalled a number of teachers posted to the two schools, leaving pupils stranded without enough teachers to attend to them.
Government action followed last year’s warning by the Ministry of Education stopping Mukono Diocese leaders from merging the two schools lest it withdraws its support.
However, the diocese, which is the foundation body of the two schools located in Mukono Municipality, did not succumb to threats and merged the schools beginning this term.
“There was no way government could continue to pay teachers and also send UPE grants to a private school, so it decided to withdraw its support,” Ms Olivia Bulya, the Mukono Municipality inspector of schools, said yesterday .
She added: “The problem is that government was not the owner of the two schools, so it could not block the diocese from merging the schools to create a private and boarding section.”
Ms Bulya said about 32 teachers from the two schools have effective this term been deployed in other schools in the municipality while the two headteachers were sent back to Mukono District service commission for redeployment.
Each of the two schools has been receiving an average of Shs600,000 per month as UPE capitation grants and teachers paid by government.
“Parents of about 600 pupils that were in the two schools have also taken them to other neigbouring public schools, while those that can afford the boarding fees have kept them at the school,” she said.
The decision to merge the two schools met resistance from parents and local leaders who claimed that the move would deny their children education since many of them cannot afford to pay high fees in a boarding school.
However, the Mukono diocese bishop James Ssebaggala, who has championed the merger since 2016, said the move is aimed at enhancing education standards in the school since day schools have been performing poorly.
Bishop Ssebaggala said Mukono Bishop’s East Primary School, another school located in the vicinity, will remain a day school to accommodate pupils who will be affected by the merger.
Ms Ida Ssekalumba, the new headmistress Bishop’s West Boarding Primary School, said turning the school into a private boarding primary school will enhance the education standards in the school.
She explained that the school would cater for pupils with special needs and also offer vocational and technical skills to learners.
“The diocese has recruited qualified teachers, some with degrees,” Ms Ssekalumba said.
She said despite the boarding facilities, the school fees are affordable to all.
Last year, angry parents and pupils of Bishop’s Central held a demonstration and razed the school perimetre fence in protest against the plan.