Education expenditure has dominated public expenditure in Uganda over the years averaging 18% of expenditure outturns over the past decade.
However, in the current economic context, Uganda, like other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa must make difficult decisions about mobilizing and allocating resources, especially in light of rising demands from other public service sectors, such as infrastructure or health care (UNESCO, 2011).
As the budget cycle for FY 2014/15 gathers pace, it is worth noting that this will mark the final year of the current National Development Plan (NDP).
However, many of the objectives of the plan have not effectively been met with regard to the education sector. In the education sector, it is notable that situational analyses at the inception of the plan can still be applied to its final year.
Many of the infrastructural and human resource constraints at the time continue to characterize the sector.
In financial year 2013/14, the approved budget for the education sector amounted toUGX 2.01 trillion (14.6% of the national budget).
The main objectives of this expenditure were, to improve quality and relevance of education at all levels; improve equitable access to education and improve effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery of the education services.
However, as the financial year nears an end, the extent to which these objectives will be met has greatly been curtailed due to the budget cuts the sector experienced in the revised budget.
In the NDP period, the transfer of funds direct onto school and teacher accounts in the case of salaries has seen significant improvement in financing education service delivery.
The recent reform to release funds to school accounts on a termly basis is a remarkable milestone. The average time taken for schools to receive money after it is released continues to vary, ranging from less than two weeks after the start of term one to more than one month after the start of term two, and more than two months in term three(BMAU – MoFPED, 2011).
The challenges of inadequacy however persist, averaging about 5000 UGX per child, per financial year. Further, the capitation grant rates remain constant throughout the financial year despite inflationary tendencies that may occur throughout the year. It is unwise to assume that the cost of instructional material will remain constant throughout the year.
There is need for increasing the capitation grant and the Education Sector should also consider introducing an inflationary parameter in the formula for calculating the capitation grants.
In 2011, about 10% of Ugandan children of school going age required Special Needs Education (SNE). In the same year, the primary subsector alone had about 197,200 pupils (2.4% of the enrolled number) that required special needs education.
It also worth noting, that SNE forms a very important component of the equitable delivery of education services. However, the financing of SNE over the years is extremely inadequate.
Further, considering that the available funding remains at the center (MoES), there is no SNE funding at local government level where the service is actually delivered.
There an urgent need to increase the level of funding for SNE. Currently, Uganda only has nine (9) SNE schools. While the emphasis has recently been placed on inclusive schools, the infrastructural and human resource challenges cannot allow for the effective delivery of SNE.
This article is a contribution from Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG)