By Nellie Nakitende
The First Lady H.E Janet Kataha Museveni, who doubles as the Minister for Education and Sports, has asked Members of the 10th Parliament to approve the purchase of radios that are meant to help school-going children in lower classes who are still at home as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I want to appeal to our colleagues the Members of Parliament on the Education and Sports committee to support our need for a supplementary budget to fund the 9 million radios for families of Ugandans who have school-going children sitting at home because of the terrible COVID19 pandemic,” the First Lady said.
Mama Janet, as she is cherishingly known amongst several Ugandans, made these remarks during the launch of PlayMatters Project under Ministry of Education at State House, Entebbe, on Thursday.
This project is meant to benefit refugee children in Uganda and the rest of the region.
“We need 9 million and not 5 million radios because we want to ensure that we have a direct channel to reach all the children for Education. We don’t know how long this pandemic is going to be with us and we don’t want a fraction of radios,” The First Lady noted.
She added that; “We don’t want to hear an outcry later of those who can’t access our programmes that we shall be putting through this media platform. Therefore, I appeal to you to please help us by helping our people.”
The First Lady’s appeal follows the Members of Parliament’s rejection to approve the procurement of radios after the presentation by Ministry Of Finance, Planning and Economic Planning and that of Education, to the Parliamentary Budget Committee.
Although World Bank has done studies in other countries about the effectiveness of using radios, the legislators argued that it was not sufficient for them to base on those studies to release Shx336.8Bn for purchase of radios.
The team that had been led by the State Minister for Higher Education, Dr. John Chrysostom Muyingo and the State Minister for Finance David Bahati, left Parliament very disappointed.
During the presentation in Parliament, the Education ministry’s Permanent Secretary Alex Kakooza, told MPs that five million radio receivers were to be procured locally and supplied to homesteads after 60 to 90 days of signing of the contract.
He told the committee that the remaining four million radios were to be imported and delivered by December 2020 (Two million) and January 2021 (Two million).
The team from the Ministries of Finance and Education also told the Budget Committee that the imported radios will be supplied by four companies at different unit costs including Shs33,925, Shs35,435, Shs38,000 and Shs42,182 inclusive of taxes. The locally procured radios are to be supplied at a unit cost of Shs37,465.