Members of Parliament on the Committee on Government Assurances and Implementation have queried the irregularities in the admission of students to Soroti Flying School.
During a meeting between the Committee and the Soroti District Local Government on 19 May 2018, the Mayor of Soroti Paul Omer said that there is are challenges of recruitment at the School, with a lot of unqualified people being recruited.
He also added that the people from the Teso region are not being considered for admission to the school, yet the President had promised that students from the region would be recruited on preferential basis
“There is a girl in this school who joined and is about to graduate; She applied with excellent grades but was not considered until she went to the President and told him she is an orphan,” he said.
Omer requested the Committee to raise the matter to the concerned authorities and find out a way of stamping out the irregularities and to remind the President of his pledge.
Lt. Col. Ronald Turyamubona, the Director of the School responded that before he joined the school, the irregular recruitment process was prevalent, but assured the MPs that this was being addressed.
“When I joined this institution, there were gross problems of mismanagement; for 10 years people were being recruited irregularly. I found out that 90 per cent of the students here were not even qualified,” he said.
Turyamubona added that there are students sponsored by State House, UPDF, Uganda Police Force and private students, of which the latter were being recruited by senior staff indiscriminately.
“Some years back, there was a high recruitment of students which created backlog without enough trainers and we had to halt it,” he said.
Hon. Hassan Fungaroo Kaps (FDC, Obongi), the Chairperson of the Committee promised that the Committee would look into the matter and condemned the practice.
“Every Ugandan should have the opportunity to attend the Flying School to ensure equal representation from all parts of the country,” he noted.
Hon. Flavia Byekwaso (UPDF), however, said that such scenarios occur when there is an indisciplined officer in the recruitment exercise who propagates the idea.
“It may not be the institution but individuals who are corrupt or harbour other ulterior motives, so we need isolate these individuals,” she added.
Hon. Silas Aogon (NRM, Kumi Municipality) added there is need to streamline the recruitment process.
“There are cases of people coming from other regions to get recruited somewhere else which is wrong; how can the entire Flying School have no one from the region,” he said.
Turyamubona added that there were institution houses that were sold off by Ministry of Lands and the IGG is looking into the matter.
“We also have challenges of funding and staffing. I have one instructor for ten students instead of one instructor for four students,” he said. He also noted with concern the low tuition fees charged to private students.
“The average student on private pays shs72 million for the entire programme and they have to fly for 240 hours, yet fuel costs US$2 per litre and this is because the structure we use is what was charged in the 70s.
However, in Ethiopia the charge per student is US$70,000,” he said.
Soroti Flying School is currently training 81 pilots and 61 engineers with nine aircraft of which seven are new.