Kitgum high school grappling with huge debts and dropout
By Denis Otim
Kitgum High School is still struggling to pay off huge debts that accumulated since 2012.
Kitgum is among the traditional schools in Northern Uganda that has attracted criticism from the public due to poor performance, low enrolment and poor administration.
Due to mismanagement of funds, low enrollment and subsequent low revenue, the school accumulated debts from service provider and suppliers amounting to Shs 538,814,797 million since 2012.
The Northern Era has established that a total of 22 service providers and suppliers haven’t been paid by the school management between 2013 and 2017.
The school Head teacher, Christopher Opoka, revealed that the huge debt is straining the school’s meagre revenue, thus, affecting normal activities of the school.
Opoka noted that six creditors of the school such as NSSF, Uganda Revenue Authority [URA], Anyim Piretek, Aber Me Icel Construction company, George William Odwong and Maktic Company Ltd, have sued the Board of Governors of the school, demanding payment of their accumulated debts.
Opoka revealed that last year, one of the creditors, Mak Tic Company Ltd, auctioned the school bus after winning a court case against the school.
Maktic Company Ltd which supplied maize grains from 2012 to 2014, and the school owned it Shs 42,563,500 million.
“We are worried about losing all the valuable assets due to the debts… we need help from the government and other stakeholders,” Opoka said.
According to Opoka, the numerous court cases and huge debts has led to a drastic decline in enrolment of students.
He said the school currently has only 499 students, unlike 1,008 students it had in 2013 implying a 50 percent drop.
Opoka made the revelation on Wednesday while meeting a team of Acholi Parliamentary Group [APG] leaders the APG Secretary General Gilbert Olanya who visited the school on a fact finding mission.
Pelest Odonga Lamakio, the Kitgum District Education Officer told The Northern Era in an interview Friday that they are concerned about the declining performances and enrolment at the school.
Lamakio stated that several interventions have been made last year to save the school from further losing its assets through negotiating for food items from Office of the Prime Minister [OPM].
Mr Lamakio said last year OPM supplied 200 bags of posho and 140 bags of beans which helped the school from purchasing food.
“We are committed in ensuring the school doesn’t lose anymore asset, we have held several meetings including with the Old Boys of the school to try and raise money to pay off the debts,” Lamakio said.
The Chua West Member of Parliament Mr Okin PP Ojara noted that the problems of the school is endemic and promised to work closely with the Education Ministry to ensure their assets are not seized.
He also lauded the School’s current Head teacher for his struggles in paying off some of the debts.
Kitgum High School founded in 1966 was one of the academic giants in the region.
The school was originally boys’ boarding school but due to the decline in enrollment, it was turned into a mixed school in 2016.