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By Charity M. Ngabirano

January sometimes seems to last 50 days contrary to what the calendars say. This time round, things are tougher, given that the economy has been struggling for almost two years under the weight of COVID-19 and now schools are opening.

The opening of schools is not bad at all and the idea has been welcomed by many, if not everyone. However, many parents have been thrown into panic mode, after quickly scanning through their pockets, wondering where the money indicated on the school circular and list of requirements is going to come from.

With the entertainment sector suffering the biggest financial blows owing to restrictions on its operations brought about by the pandemic, musicians have not been spared. In many homes, the bigger bills like rent and school fees are usually handled by the man, while the woman handles the smaller ones like utility bills. The trend is changing.

In an interview with The Kampala Sun in September 2020, musician Bebe Cool said it was time for his wife to take over his role as provider of the family.

“When I get stuck, my wife will help out because she has been working in her cake business. I depend on music and we have not been working for a year now, so to be frank, I do not have money. We shall have to talk to owners and administrators of schools in order to allow us pay in installments,” Bebe said.

In 2020, Kenzo also told us that he was broke and unable to cater for his children’s school fees. He then added that his children were, however, in the good hands of baby mamas, who could then afford to pay the fees.
“Rema has been performing at weddings, so she can help clear the school fees,” he then said and added that Rema’s husband, Hamza Sebunya, is a doctor who remained on job as an essential worker during the lockdown.

The big question, therefore, is; who of the two parents is responsible for the education of the child? What do the laws say on this responsibility?

Article 30 of the Constitution of Uganda gives all people the right to education. In that case, no one should be excluded from attaining this right.

Who is responsible for the education of a child?

Section 2 of The Children Act defines a child as a person below the age of 18 years. Therefore, dear adult, please do not start feeling entitled to things from your parents just because they brought you into this word.

After they have provided for your basic education, the rest is for you to hustle through as an adult. At that point, you parents cannot be held liable for ignoring your education needs.

Article 34 (1) also provides that all children have a right to be cared for by their parents or those entitled by law to bring them up. And, Article 34 (2) breaks it down further to show that a child is entitled to basic education, which shall be the responsibility of the state and parents of the child.

Section 5 of the Children Act also places the burden on parents and guardians or any person having custody of a child to maintain that child and respect their right to education.

The burden is upon both parents or guardians of a child. Every parent or guardian has parental responsibility for his or her child. I bring in guardians because some children are not brought up by their biological parents. Therefore, whoever is responsible for the upbringing of a child should remember that they are also responsible for their education. It does not stop at taking pictures with them or choking them with chips and chicken.

If one of the parents is not financially stable, then the other parent has to jump in and steer things. For instance, musicians have been off stage for a long time now, so if  Kenzo suggests that Rema and Hamza should take over paying school fees for Aamaal, it is very okay. Whatever the two parents agree to is okay as long as it is in the best interest of the child.

The welfare of the child is the guiding principle in all child matters. So as long a decision does not affect the ascertainable wishes and feelings of a child, as well as their physical, emotional and educational needs, then it is okay.

So, now is the time to break those piggy banks and show up at the bursar’s office like the responsible parent that you are.

The writer is an advocate

Note: The article is intended to provide information about general statements of law and is not intended to create an advocate-client relationship. Contact a lawyer on specific legal problems

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