Mr Elias Muhindo Mutungwanda, the head teacher of Basecamp Primary School in Bulembia Division of Kasese Municipality has been detained at Kasese Central Police Station for allegedly sending away pupils over defaulting school fees.
Kasese Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Lt Joe Walusimbi, ordered for the arrest of Mr Mutugwanda Tuesday after he found many pupils loitering along Kilembe road where the school is located.
The pupils told the RDC that they had been sent away for school fees defaulting by the head teacher.
“I have a balance of Shs 1,000 and my other brother has a balance of Shs 2,500 so we have to go and first help our mother to hawk tomatoes to get the money so that we are accepted back to class,” one of the pupils said.
Mr Mutungwanda told the RDC that: “We agreed in the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) meeting that parents must pay examination fees, pay for remedial classes and other little fees to enhance the performance of their children. So I had sent them back to their parents to collect the money.”
However, Walusimbi insisted that it is unlawful to deny children of the poor their right to education regardless of any resolutions agreed upon by the PTA.
“Do you know that they are Universal Primary Education (UPE) pupils? They have a right to education and because of financial status in their homes, they opted for Bona basome which is an initiative by the President way back so that every child is able to get formal education! Are you aware of that presidential directive and are you aware that we do not charge school fees in UPE schools?” the irritated RDC asked.
Mr Ahebwa Seth, the principal educational officer for Kasese Municipality said parents and school managements can lay strategies intended to improve the performance of learners but it is unacceptable to deny learners their educational right.
“Having a mutual agreement to pay small fees for tests, lunch, remedial lessons and other fees wouldn’t be a crime but that doesn’t guarantee head teachers to chase away learners for failure to pay those charges. I am even shocked to hear this from a government school,” he said.
This publication has learnt that the school was charging fees depending on the class; lower classes (P1 to P3) pay Shs 35,000, P4 and P5 pay Shs 60,000, P6 pay Shs 65,000 while P7 pay Shs 100,000.