Tag Archives: parenting

Why Raise School Fees?

Ever since the Minister of Finance read out the Government of Uganda’s Budget proposals for the financial year 2014/15, we have been treated to numerous threats by the some proprietors of Private Schools under the umbrella body of National Private Educational Institutions Association (NPEIA) to increase the School Fees charges. This came up as a result of the Government proposing to remove the Income Tax Exemptions currently enjoyed by the Educational Institutions.

As a parent I feel insulted by these continuous attempts to blackmail not only the Government but we parents into joining the crusade of these capitalists involved in our education industry. Do they think that they are dealing with illiterate parents who have no understanding of how the taxation system works? Do they somehow wish or hope that as parents we shall rise up based on mere emotions and lack of proper comprehension of issues to back their pleas?

Having read the Minister’s budget speech in its entirety, she stated; “… I propose to terminate the exemption on income derived by a person from managing or running an educational institution for commercial gain. This is consistent with the principle of equity and transparency in tax regime, and broadening the tax base by bringing more tax payers into the tax net.”

With all due respect and knowing that the proprietors of these institutions are all out to contribute to the Educational advancement of our population, why would one not want to pay tax on income accrued as a result of pursuing this agenda? Working class Ugandan citizens are taxed left right and center and Income Tax is one of those that they do not survive. While the Government might have given the Education industry a tax break in this regard, it didn’t mean that it would last a life time. Besides, the challenges that brought up this decision years back by Government to waive income tax seem to be no more. The proprietors of these institutions should just be ready to file their income tax returns and pay up.

I don’t see an argument of being over burdened by taxes as holding water. This tax only applies to those schools that are making profit. If no profit is made, then it doesn’t apply. This therefore means that the so called struggling schools will still not fall victim to this tax.

To simplify this, add up all the School income from school fees and any other sources then subtract expenses like costs of feeding, salaries for Admin, teaching and support staff, utilities, Local taxes among others. Whatever remains is expected to be the profit and that is what the 30% Income Tax is applicable to. Profits after expenses belong to the business owners and that is probably the bone of contention to many who have been enjoying a free ride making massive untaxed income.

Another argument that is being forwarded is one of loans that are even causing some of the schools to close. The performance of a school in regard to loan repayment cant be directly attributable to the existence or lack of Income Tax. In Uganda, most financial institutions lend against assets. It is highly unlikely that a school with assets worth Ushs 100 Million will be given a loan of Ushs 1 Billion.

It is a good idea for all actors in the Ugandan economy to realise that as we move towards full funding of our national budget, we have to bear the brunt of raising the much needed financial resources. This definitely might mean us remaining with less in our pockets in the process but lets avoid looking for scapegoats. Increasing school fees by the proprietors is not the solution to the Income tax resumption on the industry. Let the business owners readjust their expectations and those that have been stashing away massive profits, its the time to share the loot with Government. As for that poor struggling school that hardly makes a profit, they have no reason to be bothered by this tax resumption.

Fellow parents, let us not be drawn into this well orchestrated scheme by a few who want to continue earning untaxed income. Any school fees increments should be justified with facts.


Parents Lets Teach our Children in 2014

As a father of three children sired over the last decade, I have been both a participant and an observer in the game called parenting. Having grown up in a family where Mom and Dad were tougher than the average Ugandan Cop, I was no stranger to corporal punishment when I broke the rules at home. The arrival of Daddy at home meant most of us taking cover and avoiding him otherwise he always asked the wrong questions at the wrong time and we nearly always had the wrong answers for them.

Becoming a parent meant a lot for me because I decided that I wanted to break that trend and ensure that I am a friend to my children. This view I later realized was shared by most of my peers. Unfortunately, along the way, I realized that how we defined ‘friendship’ with our children differed. While some believe that leaving the kids to do anything and everything they wished without raising a finger at them and at best trying to reason with the 3 year olds was the best way to remain friends; others believe that making sure the children have everything they desire anytime anywhere including the right not to eat certain foods like Posho (Ugali/Maize meal/Pap) and beans that are perceived as ‘food for the poor’ in Uganda.

We have chosen to do all to ensure that material provisions for the children are readily available but the one thing that seems to be missing out is the ‘Me Time’ for the children. We have chosen to relegate any form of learning to the schools and the rationale is that one gets an expensive and sometimes preferably International School to ‘teach’ our children on our behalf. Any form of home learning is left to the Mass Media and Maids.

The current perception is that a Good Education is now directly proportional to the money one is ready to fork out. It’s the reason why many schools are always under pressure to ensure that the students pass with flying colours irrespective of the means used to get them to do so.

Now that 2014 is on the roll, its time we took back our role of complementing the school based education with the home based learning especially in the Life skills area. What use is it for one to have a child that has scored distinctions all their life and even graduated with a first class only to start the ‘post school’ life without any understanding of financial management, planning, community engagement, culture, cooking, communication and many other life skills? I know we can always say that the schools will teach them that but you will agree with me that there is a lot that a parent has an opportunity to teach their child through daily interactions as opposed to what a teacher will achieve in a class room whose primary goal is to teach children to pass exams.

It took me close to a year from the time I got my first salary as an employee to get used to handling money. This was mainly because of how I had been shielded for long from it basing on the wide held fear by many of our Ugandan parents then that money would spoil the children. Today I ensure that my children by the age of six years are conversant with handling money, saving and planning their expenditure.

One of the sins I have been committing in the past is blatantly blame the Education system and raise the red flag about the ill fated destiny of our children because of Government’s failure to give us a better system in place. Today, I choose to put less blame on the Government and heap more blame on we the parents. We are not doing our part in educating these children and somehow expect the Government to come up with the magical bullet that will turn our kids into Einsteins. Globally there are complaints galore about the deteriorating education standards and this is not a preserve of Uganda alone.

The United States, Britain, China, India among others all have their tales as seen by the countless stories available online regarding their Education Systems and these are the countries that the average Ugandan Middle Class family is more than willing to send their child to.

My prayer is that we as parents can rethink our expectations of the schools to which we send our children and reduce the pressure we put upon them to focus on our children passing exams as opposed to getting an education. We also need to figure out ways in which we can complement their learning on a daily basis, only then are we likely to have a better workforce ready to take on the challenges that this world has to offer.

I promise to spend more time with my children and teach them something at every opportunity from now onwards. Its my belief that on top of the material provision, this is the best way in which I can be their friend and avoid the “Daddy is home, lets run and hide” scenario that I faced while growing up.

What about you?

@wirejames on #Twitter