The Uganda communication commission (UCC) has called for a collaborated effort with the Ministry of Education and Police to end theft of computers in Government aided schools.
Appearing before the Committee of Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE) on Friday, Abdul-Salam Waiswa, the Head of Legal at UCC blamed the vice on the clique of people disguising as officials from the Commission and ask head teachers for computers in the guise of repairing them, but end up taking these computers from the schools.
He was responding to queries raised in the 2015/2016 audit report by the Auditor General where he noted that Rural Communications Development Fund has been funding ICT laboratories in schools but when auditors visited the established projects, they discovered that some of the computers were stolen, some desktops were unaccounted for, the laboratories lacked internet connectivity, some computers were uninstalled, others nonfunctional while some schools lacked qualified teachers.
Waiswa told the Committee that the Commission has so far registered 20 cases of theft of the school computers to police and some suspects have been arrested while some computers have been recovered.
He added that the theft of school computers is being worsened by laxity of school head teachers.
“As a Commission, we are concerned about the loss of these computers and we are in an effort to improve compliance and limit loss and we have a team of investigators and whenever we get these cases, we investigate them and as we speak now, we have four ongoing cases at Buganda Road Court,” Waiswa said.
He added: “We have arrested people and we are prosecuting them for participating in theft and also defrauding Head Masters. Some of them go to these rural areas and lie to these headmasters that they are working for UCC, UCC has sent them to pick the computers for maintenance and they ask for money like Shs1M and after familiarizing with these head teachers they come back next week and pick these computers.”
When asked by MPs if the Computers are engraved, Waiswa answered in affirmative saying some of these computers are engraved and this has helped the Commission make some recoveries.
“But the theft are worsened by laxity in school administration who need to be vigilant because ideally if you are the head master and somebody says he works for UCC,” Waiswa said.
The director of the Rural Communications Development Fund, Nyombi Thembo informed the Committee that their role is to supply these computers and it’s the role of the Ministry Of Education to ensure they remain operational and called for budget support from the Education Ministry in terms of servicing and maintaining these computers and labaratories.
On the concern raised by auditors of absence of IT teachers, Nyombi said that they have made a decision not to supply computers to schools without ICT clubs.