Today in Parliament / 14th February 2024.

UPDATES FROM PARLIAMENT, WEDNESDAY 14TH FEBRUARY 2024:Schools banned from obtaining loans; UNEB to release UCE results tomorrow; use of national IDs as collateral for money lenders is illegal – says Minister

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Africa Leadership Institute and the Parliament of Uganda!

This is an update from the Parliament of Uganda marking the 10th Sitting of the 3rd Meeting of the 3rd Session of the 11th Parliament. This Sitting was chaired by the Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon. Thomas Tayebwa. In his communication, Speaker Tayebwa informed MPs that the plenary sitting will end earlier at 5 P.m. to allow MPs to attend the Ash Wednesday Catholic mass at Parliament.

The House then moved on to receive a Statement on the transition from O’level to A’level under the new Curriculum. This was presented by the State Minister for Primary Education, Hon. Moriku Joyce Kaducu who doubles as the (DWR, Moyo District, NRM). She noted that the pioneer cohort of the new lower secondary curriculum will take their end-of-cycle examinations in November 2024. The Minister also told MPs that UNEB is currently engaging with stakeholders to enhance awareness regarding the New Lower Secondary Curriculum and the expected changes. She also advised government and government-aided schools to avoid commercial loans and seek authorization from MoFPED through the PS (Ministry of Education) as per the PFMA Act, 2015. According to the Minister, the Ministry of Education and Sports has allocated a budget for the 2024/2025 financial year to continue reviewing the A-level curriculum for competence-based development. She added that the Ministry will ensure all preparations in terms of training of teachers, instructional materials, etc are all made prior and adequate. The Minister later announced that UNEB will release UCE results tomorrow. “We were together with the team from UNEB looking at the results which are going to be released tomorrow and before that”. the Minister said.

While presenting another statement on prohibitive school fee charges, the Minster said the Ministry of Education and Sports is embarking on the process of implementing compulsory free universal education for all. However, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa ruled that the debate on the statement on school fees will ensue next Tuesday to allow the Minister to bring concrete measures on the same.

Debating the Statement on the transition from O’level to A’level under the new Curriculum, Hon. Kanushu Laura (MP, PWD Representative) suggested that teachers need refresher training to handle special needs students, and parents need answers on which schools to choose for their students. Hon. Byarugaba Alex Bakunda (MP, Isingiro County North, Isingiro District, NRM) also accused the Ministry of Education and Sports of not adequately addressing the persistent school fees issue over the years. In a similar way, Hon. Musila John (MP, Bubulo East County, Namisindwa District, NRM) argued that it’s time to address the new A’level curriculum entrants. He added that the Ministry of Education and Sports is sleeping on the job. According to Hon. Ababiku Jesca (DWR, Adjumani District, NRM) the Madi sub-region faces a significant issue with Amelo Technical School, which has been stalled by the government for over a decade. To achieve a competence-based curriculum, Hon. Bwanika Abed (MP, Kimaanya – Kabonera Division, Masaka City, NUP) proposed reducing class hours to foster a competence-based curriculum, allowing students to engage more with society.

Hon. Muserure Shartsi Nayebare Kutesa (MP, Mawogola North County, Ssembabule District, NRM) expressed concern over the stalled Uganda Secondary Education Expansion Project, which was set to construct 116 new seed secondary schools in 16 districts. “The USEEP Project has delayed yet government is already paying interest on the US$150m loan that was approved in July 2020, with a closing date of 2025. Can the Ministry of Education & Sports present the progress made and why no work has begun?”. she said. Hon. Omara Paul (MP, OtuKe County, Otuke District, NRM) voiced concerns about the criteria used by schools to select students for admission, which he believes undermines equity and justice. “Parents are crestfallen because schools will refuse to admit students with 8 aggregates and admit those with 12”. he said. Finally Hon. Nakut Faith Loru (DWR, Napak District, NRM) requested that pioneer students of the new A’level curriculum be exempted and given university certificates.

State Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon. David Muhoozi, who doubles as the (MP, UPDF Representative) later addressed pending issues raised during the debate on the renewal process and guidelines for National IDs. The Minister declared that the use of National IDs as collateral for money lenders is deemed illegal. “The regulators of money lenders should strike off such persons who unlawfully retain ID cards, from the record of authorized money lenders”. he said. He added “Citizens should report such matters to Police to allow the entity handle perpetrators lawfully”. Minister Muhoozi confirmed that they will beat the deadline for renewing National IDs and are committed to doing so. Muhoozi also confirmed that the owners of the old, valid IDs will receive a new one and the old ones will be retrieved and destroyed. Minister Muhoozi notes that Ugandans in the diaspora can renew their IDs through a new system that offers online pre-registration and registration at embassies.

According to Minister Muhoozi, Ugandans without expired IDs will not be required to renew them during the mass enrolment exercise. “Unexpired cards will be renewed if the holder of the card so desires. All processes and facilities are in place for this. There is continuous enrollment for IDs so that there is no vaccum in service delivery. Persons below the age of 16 years only acquire NINs and not cards so there is continuous enrolment for these”. the Minister said. Minister Muhoozi also said that it would be impossible for Ugandans to get instant National IDs like the case is with driving permits due to the need to verify citizenship, which isn’t the case for driving permits. “Driving permits are instant because there are no citizen verification. A process of reviewing the depth of family relations in Uganda and lineage is going to be automated to a given extent but where inconsistent information is provided by a person, this has to be reviewed”. he said.

Minister says that Ugandans of Rwandan origin, as constitutionally recognized in the 1995 constitution, will be eligible for national IDs, and Muslim women will be allowed to take head wrap photos. The Minister defended the decision to continuously upgrade national IDs, citing the need to change biometric features like face and fingerprints on the card and encrypted in the bar code. “Renewal seeks to have the latest features of a person for identification. Deteriorating security features like holograph, micro text on the card by reason of wear and tear, vagaries of weather and handling”. he said

Hon. Ayume Charles (MP, Koboko Municipality, Koboko District, NRM) who doubles as the Chairperson of the Committee on Health later presented a report on a field visit to assess Nodding Syndrome prevalence in the Acholi sub-region. According to the report, Pader has the highest number of victims compared to other districts. The Committee on Health noted that there is no specific treatment for Nodding Syndrome patients because the drugs used only provide symptomatic relief. “The MoH should continue scientific research to establish the exact cause of Nodding Syndrome and consequently preventive and curative measures”. he said

The Speaker afterwards adjourned the House to Thursday, 15th February 2024 at 2:00PM

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