Nabisunsa Girls School has come under the spotlight for ‘selling’ slots that were allocated to learners on merit. One such student is Knight Nakabiito Mulira whose name appeared on the senior one admission list on November 1, 2021.
Having scored aggregate nine in her Primary Leaving Examinations, Nakabiito’s name was among those proudly displayed on the school notice board and the head teacher’s office. After this confirmation, her father Hudson Mulira paid a sum of 2.1 million Shillings to cover the cost of admission and school fees.
The payments were made on November 16, two weeks after the admission. However, the girl’s dream was shattered reportedly because of failure to settle a bill for school requirements amounting to 900,000 Shillings. The items on the list include uniforms, mattresses and customized counter books.
The itemized requirements include two uniform dresses, budgeted at 150,000 Shillings, a school sweater budgeted at 65,000 Shillings, a sports kit budgeted at 120,000 Shillings, 15 books at 10,000 Shillings each, a customized mattress budgeted at 110,000 Shillings, and belt stiffeners which cost 30,000 Shillings. An additional 20,000 Shillings was needed for labelling the items, and 200,000 as a contribution for the purchase of new beds. Also on the list is 35,000 Shillings for a prep uniform and 20,000 Shillings for an identity card and visitors card.
The school indicated that the listed items were only accessed at the school and payments are made to the suppliers at school in cash. But Mulira explains that when he went back to the school after, he was told the school no longer has beds and as such could not admit his child.
The frustrated parent was left in shock. A few days to school re-opening, his child had no place in any school yet they had paid school fees and admission as soon as the child was admitted. Mulira says that he dreaded having to break the news to his daughter that she would not be going to the school where she put her first choice. According to Mulira, the cancelled admission was a big blow to him but a nightmare for Nakabiito with an unmeasurable effect.
He says that from the school, he walked straight to Jinja Road Police Station where he opened up a case and the officer in charge called the school administrator who insisted that they had nothing to do other than refunding his money. “The headteacher arrogantly told the DPC that after the refund, he can go look for a placement in another school,” Mulira narrates. Out of frustration, Mulira walked to the school on January 5, 2022, and the school bursar gave him a check of 1.96 million Shillings only. The parent adds that between January 5 to 10, he was moving school to school to get a place but all schools had already reached their class ceiling.
But Mulira adds that he found other parents at the school in a similar dilemma and are now forced to look for alternative schools days after the reopening of schools. Agnes Nansubuga, another parent who finds herself in a similar position says her daughter too was denied a placement after having been admitted on merit through the national senior one placement exercise. Nansubuga says she paid fees earlier but didn’t have the money for requirements at the time.
“When I went to the school to pay for the requirements and pick the admission form since the children are expected to report on Friday, I was told my child’s name no longer appears on the senior one list. The school however quickly offered to refund my money but what use can that money be to me now?” Nansubuga asks.
Another parent Catherine Wanyenze in the same scenario says she refused to allow the school to refund the money. “… It cannot help me get a place now. But why should I have to look for a place for my child when she sat for exams, passed and was placed at Nabisunsa. Why should someone admitted on merit suffer because the school admitted other students with points above the cutoff point,” she said angrily.
Wanyenze adds that it feels like her child was denied a placement because she is not Muslim. “When we went to the school yesterday, it looked like only places of Christian parents were cancelled. The Muslims had no problems. I am confused. This situation makes one wonder what is really going on,” she said.
With two days left for senior ones to report, parents that URN found at Nabisunsa said they were confused. Many of them intimated that they didn’t know how to proceed.
URN’s efforts to get in touch with administrators of the school on phone were futile. A trip to the school revealed many parents in the same situation but none was willing to comment as they still hold hope that their children will eventually be admitted to the ‘prestigious’ school.
Ismael Mulindwa, the Director of Basic Education at the Ministry of Education says that the ministry has received some complaints involving other traditional schools and they seek to investigate the matter to its logical conclusion. He says schools often admit children and deny them placements without a clear explanation.
“We had not received any complaint from Nabisunsa as yet but from other schools. But as we assure the public that this is going to be investigated. I want to give them a benefit of the doubt that they have a clear explanation for the denial of a legitimately admitted student,” he added.
Mulindwa however points out that in some cases that have been reported to the ministry, parents whose students had not been admitted on merit through the national selection process influence the process by paying big sums of money to the schools.
“In many years, schools have been known for selling out placements of students admitted on merit in anticipation that some of the students placed by the ministry led selection process will not show up. The schools normally enroll these learners through what they call compassionate admission. Last year, this form of admission was done by most of the schools days before the national selection.