Our Intervention – Advocating for improved public investment for inclusive quality education
The right to education is one of the fundamental rights of a human being recognized under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other various international and regional instruments to which Uganda is a party. Whereas, the Government of Uganda like many other Sub Saharan Governments is committed to providing equitable access to quality and affordable education, it is faced with Education challenges. For example, in 2017, Government of Uganda introduced the Universal Primary Education (UPE) which increased enrolment from 3.1 million in 1996 to over 8.7 million children in primary school. This, however, was not matched with the number of qualified teachers in schools, which affected the quality of teaching and learning nationally. A 2019 World Bank study reveals that less than half of the people in Uganda that enrol in Primary 1 do not reach Primary 7. Poor enrolment and retention rates are another problem especially among the poor, its reported that Ugandas poor children are seven times more likely to drop out of school than their well-off counterparts.
Limited access to quality education in Uganda is another challenge affecting Uganda’s education system and this has been attributed to inadequate public investment in the sector, poor accountability of the utilisation of universal primary education funds. Furthermore, there is an apparent lack of vigilance and increased apathy amongst communities, coupled with insufficient knowledge and skills to demand for accountability and equitable public financing in the education sector. Uganda currently spends 11% of its budget on its education i.e. 2.3% of GDP compared to Tanzania at 3.5% , Ethiopia 4.5% and Rwanda 4.5%.
To reverse this, CSBAG has since its inception advocated or increased financing for children to promote the right to education and ensure that children in Uganda have equal access to quality education and are equipped with the right skills to become productive and contribute to transforming Uganda and its people.
- Advocating for improved access to quality education for all children especially the girl child, children with disabilities, children from hard to reach communities, children from underprivileged or poverty-stricken households among others
- Increasing government accountability through citizens monitoring of service delivery in the education system
- Advocating for adequate financing of the education sector to enhance the right to education in Uganda
- Advocating for improved finance to the education sector to enhance the quality of education
Key issues that CSBAG has advocated for over time include:
- Allocation Formula on capitation grant: To date Government allocates funds according enrolment rate in addition to a threshold of provided for each school however it has challenges
- The School Feeding Policy: Government budget documents do not prioritize school feeding and offer no support to alternative policy programs such as community mobilization and school farming activities.
- Poor Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in Schools: This program is mainly funded through external support and only in a few districts,
- School inspection: Insufficient resource allocation to the inspection function in the education sector despite its contribution towards ensuring better learning outcomes as it curbs teacher absenteeism and other related issues.
- Lack of government support for Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs): Children who go through ECDs are more likely to perform better and also have higher survival rates in school. ECD is however implemented, in a fragmented manner due to lack of a comprehensive ECD policy approach. Furthermore, it is largely private sector led and highly exclusive- as over 80% of the population cannot afford the fees charged for pre-primary education. This is according to the Bud get Monitoring and Accountability Unit report
Whom we work with
At the National level, CSBAG works with Civil Society Organisations organised into the Education Sector Thematic Working Group operating at both National and Local Government level. At the Local Government level, CSBAG works with citizens organised into Participatory Budget Clubs based at sub county level. These operationalise the CSBAG Participatory Budget Model
Since inception, CSBAG has been advocating for increased investment towards the realisation of the right to education in Uganda. Our work is grounded in international human rights law. We promote a human rights-based approach to the processes and the outcomes of education interventions. We use majorly approached including Advocacy for improved financing for education sector in Uganda, mobilising citizens to engage in shaping budget priorities in the education sector as well as monitor budget implementation to ensure school children get the right ;quality of education, policy analysis and research to support civil society engagement with Government on the right to education. These are outlined below:
1. Advocacy for improved financing for Education sector :
As part of our advocacy for increased for Education Sector, Annually CSBAG mobilises CSOs to engage budge processes to inline the budget decisions within the Education Sector. CSBAG is tasked with securing spaces within the budget cycle where CSOs engage to influence the budget decisions. Specifically, at the beginning of the National Budget preparations process, CSBAG mobilises CSOs to engage with Local Governments on key service delivery issues and opportunities which then informs LG leader on key budget priorities, secondly, CSBAG mobilises CSOs to analyse the National Budget and generate alternative budget proposals which we then use to engage Parliament as it scrutinises and approved the National Budget. Since 2013 consistently mobilised CSOs to develop Position Papers presented to Parliament of Uganda to influence budget decisions at Parliament level
As a result of the engagement, we are happy to report that the Education Sector budget increased from UGX 2.5Trillion in Financial Year 2017/18 to UGX 2.7 Trillion in Financial Year 2018/19. Although this has not necessarily translated into an increment in the capitation grant which still stands at UGX 8000 against the targeted UGX 10,000
2. Research and Analysis
CSBAG also undertakes research and analysis to support CSO advocacy. Below are links of the research CSBAG as undertaken specific to education
3. Promoted Mechanisms for Improving Transparency and Accountability
To promote budget accountability and transparency in the education sector, CSBAG works to promote meaningful participation of CSOs and citizens to influence how resources are allocated and utilised in the education sector.
- Our protracted engagement with Ministry of Finance on Education Sector financing led to Ministry of Finance introducing reforms in the disbursement mechanism in FY 2014/15 where a) release funds to schools on a school calendar basis instead of quarterly basis to enable schools operate without any disruptions and b) to send money directly to schools instead of funds going through different other channels before they reach the school. This has reduced leakages and improved timely access to funds to support school operations
- CSBAG has also through its participatory budget model enhanced citizens participation in monitoring and advocating for better service delivery in the education sector. In the financial year 2016/17 for example, through its annual budget performance monitoring 579 UPE schools were monitored in 28 districts. This work has gone a long way in influencing public finance management reforms in the education sector specifically in line with improvements for Public funds disbursements. In FY2017/18 , Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development introduced key measures including training Accounting Officers in the release process, shifting all Local Governments to the IFMIs to improve the quarterly release process. This was partly influenced by the evidence from the CSO budget performance monitoring conducted on a quarterly basis that revealed delay in receipt of funds by implementing agencies. Specifically, in Quarter 3, CSOs established that only 25% of the schools (66) had received funds for 1st term by 21st February 2017 (over two weeks after term I had begun yet national standards require releases to be done 1 week before the beginning of the 1st school term).
- Enhanced participation of communities and parents in school management. Through the participatory budget model, parents engagement in monitoring school operations has been enhanced and service delivery has improved. In 2018 for example, 80 UPE schools were monitored in the 12 districts where and through this, several successes have been registered at school level ranging from display of budget information, procuring equipment including desks, increasing access to hygiene facilities where latrines were constructed in schools and teachers absenteeism reduced
 World Bank Facing Forward School for Learning in Africa
CSO position papers