Catholic Church Tells Education Ministry to Back Off Its Land

The Catholic church has told the Ministry of Education and Sports to stop asking for land titles for schools established on their land across the country.

The leaders at the catholic secretariat in the education commission made the remarks on Monday afternoon while meeting members of the education policy review commission.

Rev Fr Ronald Okello, the executive secretary in charge of education at the catholic secretariat said the church is not willing to hand over land titles or make subdivision of any inch of their land thus questioning the intention behind this development.

Since 2013, the government has been making efforts to ensure that all public and government aided schools and institutions acquire their own certificate of title as one of the means to secure their existence.

The arrangement whose implementation has gained momentum in the last three years is rooted on the fact that the future of many government aided schools had become uncertain as foundation bodies, including the church, reclaim part of the land they are occupying

For instance, records from the Wakiso education department indicate that over 90 percent of the schools in the district lack ownership documents making it difficult for the school management committees to contest the takeover. 

However, the church is suspicious that there is a hidden motive beyond what is being presented as the government is gradually taking control of their schools and marginalizing foundation bodies that are the de facto owners of these institutions. The church’s fear stems from the centralization of their schools in 1964 and 1971 by Obote I regime.

“…the school land is a temporal property of the church and the title belongs to the respective diocese which cannot be subdivided. registration of land titles of schools should be under the names of the trustees of the schools (which is the respective dioceses),” one of their documents reads in part.

Rt. Rev. Sanctus Lino Wanok, the newly elected vice chairperson of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, noted that the church has its plans and how they manage their property which cannot be compromised just because the government is giving aid to their schools.

The church also sounded an alarm over the recent move for the ministry to request that chairperson of school boards be removed from signing and supervising school accounts.

“This proposal does not augur well for the Safety of school resources and accountability. we strongly recommend that such a move be stopped and we maintain the status quo, where the chairpersons are signatories,” Rev Fr Okello said.

However, Dr Kedrace Turyagenda, the former director education standards at the education ministry, advised that the church’s stand on management of school funds be revisited given the fact that the new method of operation is in line with the public finance management laws.

Dr Turyagenda added that board of governors should keep an oversight duty to pin the headteacher who is the accounting officer when there is a mess done rather than sharing the blame.

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