OP-ED

Parliament is not vested with authority to halt transfer of headteacher

A photo montage of te article author; Steven Masiga and Parliament of Uganda

By Steven Masiga:

Parliament would be overstretching its oversight role and similarly an affront to the administrative functions of the Ministry of Education. The permanent secretary of the Ministry needs to be given latitude to exercise her mandate as a top technocrat charged with steering education programs in the country.

It was even a wrong move by the Education Committee of Parliament to intimidate Ms Sarah Bugoosi, the commissioner special needs contrary to the principle of fair hearing enshrined under Art 42 of our constitution and as per the Latin concept Audi alteram partem which warns against condeming people without hearing from them. Recall even Adam was asked to explain what he had done in the garden of Eden though God knew in advance what he had done but still wanted to hear from the trio.

Even a criminal must be listened to, how about top education administrators, why didn’t parliament give a right to a fair hearing? If every headteacher who is transferred kept rushing to parliament whenever they are transferred then the law needs to be changed so that they begin reporting to parliament and not the education ministry.

There is no enabling provision in the constitution that casts authority on a committee of parliament to cancel a transfer initiated by a permanent secretary of a ministry, and, therefore, such orders are null and void, and typical affront to the administrative functions of the ministry which is imbued with powers to effect transfers of headteachers and teachers. If I am wrong, then let that particular provision be cited.

I take cognizance of the fact that the core role of parliament is law-making in line with Art 79(1)(2)  on top of other oversight roles and as usual oversight roles have limits since they are not core roles. The plea by a fellow member of parliament Hon  Alex Ndezi that the decision to halt the transfer was of non-legal effect fell on deaf ears.

Many well-meaning Ugandans are asking many questions as to why the parliament of Uganda flouted various administrative procedures like for example not inviting the purported petitioner from Mbale who claims to be LCIII chairman Busoba. He should have been invited to own that letter or dispute it, what if it was a forgery or bore his signature and was the content his?

Why was this skipped? 

Secondly, why is parliament silent on the Ministry of Education recommendations which were based on commissioned audit reports and recommended for a transfer of the head mbale deaf sss including recovery of diverted funds?

Why is parliament silent on the poor performance in the school where the school was the last in the whole country in spite of about shs800m received from the government per annum as a capitation grant?

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For starters, the transfer of the headteacher of Mbale School of the Deaf was long overdue because it had been recommended by various commissioned audits right from 2019. However, every time the ministry would attempt to transfer her she would block it using her accomplices in Ministry. The latest attempt was when she used the Equal Opportunities Commission to block her transfer (refer to a letter from EOC blocking her transfer which was later vacated by the very EOC).

After Eoc studied the headteacher’s petition, it vacated the order it had put in place and instructed the permanent secretary Ministry of Education to take any administrative measure as PS, which included interdiction and transfer among others. And precisely, the Education Ministry communicated to parliament that it was transferring the headteacher to Busia and as I write today, Mbale School of the Deaf has a new headteacher. 

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and a committee of parliament have coordinated or equivalent powers and therefore if a matter has been handled by EOC and resolved, the same matter cannot be brought to a committee of parliament but rather to court. Whoever challenges a decision of the EOC must petition the high court, that is the guidance and directive in the EOC Act 

Mbale School for the Deaf was established on the authority of Art 35 and operationalized by the Disability Act 2020. Surprisingly and against the law on deaf schools, normal students are about 500 and are renumerated as though they are deaf learners which explains the shs250m received per term, an amount of money which has never helped the school but rather used to enrich some individuals.

It pains me as a parent and former board chairman of the school to see somebody trampling and discreting the constitutional rights of deaf children. It was not by choice that they became deaf and if you hear their cries on how they have suffered with hunger in the school, you cry out asking why the government has forgotten about them.

A member of parliament from bugisu queried why old deaf students of Mbale School for the Deaf were striking. This was because they had been blocked by the school administration from being on the board yet the Education Act provides for their representation. They say their plea and write-ups to the Ministry of Education fell on deaf ears prompting them to strike to attract attention 

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 Efforts to intimidate education officials in Mbale today (Sunday, September 03, 2023) to allow de-freezing of the school accounts which were frozen following the transfer of headteacher fell on deaf ears. We hope the money meant to help deaf learners is safe until schools open – recall this money was wired recently by the Finance Ministry for a third term.

We are told some teachers when they heard of the transfer also stole vocational equipment. This should be looked into as well by the new headteacher.

The Ministry of Education and Mbale District audits on Mbale School of the Deaf are too dirty exposing billions of swindled. Teachers who would challenge the headteacher’s administration would taken to the subcounty for canning, and many other shortcomings in administration 

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Steven Masiga is a researcher from Mbale and former Board Chairman at Mbale School of the Deaf. Tel: 0706655811.



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