Bridge School country Director, Morrison Rwakakamba.

Bridge Schools remain unlicensed and like all the others in this category, will not be permitted to operate this school year (2018), the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) Alex Kakooza says in the latest media statement.

Mr. Kakooza accuses management of Bridge Schools (formerly Bridge International Academies) of embarking on what he says an aggressive public and social media campaign aimed at “hoodwinking unsuspecting parents about the status of the 63 Bridge Schools in Uganda.”

“Please note that the Ministry has not yet licensed the Bridge Schools because they have not yet met the requirements to merit being licensed to operate in Uganda,” he says, putting parents with children in these schools in a dilemma.

The country Director Morrison Rwakakamba said Monday that management had opened all the 63 schools with a 14000 pupils as they wait for licenses from the ministry. Rwakakamba said the schools have fulfilled all the requirements needed for registration.

On the other hand, PS Kakooza says there has been public outcry on the state of Bridge Schools in Uganda. According to Kakooza, some of the concerns to activities of Bridge Schools included: Safety and security of pupils, Failure to meet the requirements for Bridge Schools to be licensed as International Schools.

Kakooza says the ministry requires management to present a letter of accreditation from an international examining body confirming the curriculum to be offered, inspection reports from the international body/Local Government where the schools are located and from the Directorate of Education Standards (DES), the letter of protocol from the relevant Embassy; and a list of qualified teachers and the fact that normal/ordinary schools cannot be licensed as academies.

Rwakakamba said management at the schools have addressed all the above concerns whereby among others, they have provided security at running water at their campuses. He said with such measures the safety and health of the children are guaranteed by the schools.

But in the statement, the PS cites an earlier letter he authored advising management to follow up the registration process, something Rwakakamba said management did. “This letter, therefore, serves to eliminate any doubt and accordingly advise that you follow up your application(s) for licensing with the relevant Ministry authorities.” Kakooza says the schools have to meet the Basic Minimum Requirements and Standards to be allowed to operate.

“My letter was reinforced by Dr. Daniel Nkaada, Commissioner Basic Education, on January 29 2018 in response to letters by Rwakakamba dated January 22 and January 24 2018. Dr. Nkaada in the letter cautioned BIA not to feed its clients with “false hope”, because the numerous discussions with the Ministry remained inconclusive to the extent the minimum licensing requirements had not yet been met by the 63 Bridge Schools. Besides, incomplete files had been received for only 48 Schools,” he says.

The PS says that in April 2017 the Committee on Education and Sports presented findings of its independent investigation of schools that the Ministry earmarked for closure for contravention of the law, including the Bridge Schools. “The Education and Sports Committee of Parliament concurred with the Ministry’s decision to close the affected schools,” he says.

He says the same position was re-confirmed last week in a Ruling by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga on February 1, 2018 when attempts were made to block the closure of the targeted 1,300 schools that do not meet the minimum operating standards by the Ministry. “This attempt was made notwithstanding the fact that the proprietors of these kind of schools have now had over a year to address the identified gaps,” he says

“In view of the above, and specifically of the engagement between the Ministry of Education and Sports and Management of Bridge Schools, parents and indeed all concerned authorities are accordingly notified that Bridge Schools remain unlicensed and like all the others in this category, will not be permitted to open/operate this school year (2018),” PS Kakooza says.

Kakooza has warned that failure to comply with the requirements of the law “implies that parents and Management of the Bridge Schools take full responsibility for the consequences of non-compliance.”