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Uganda asks diplomats to leave children home, save costs

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni speaks during the inauguration ceremony for his sixth term at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala, Uganda, on May 12, 2021.
The Ugandan government wants all workers deployed to foreign missions to leave their children in the country to save on education costs.
The proposal in the new Public Standing Orders, 2021, was presented to Parliament on Thursday afternoon.
In the new standing orders, the Public Service ministry intends to, among others, save Shs8.8 million spent on every child of a foreign mission staff member.
Public Service junior minister Grace Mugasa told MPs in the Foreign Affairs Committee that the proposal seeks to ease the heavy financial burden the government bears in supporting children of staff working in foreign missions.
She said the foreign staff should take their children to local schools for primary and secondary education.
“In 2011, the education allowance was subsidised at $2,500 (about Shs8.820m) per child per year. Therefore, under the revised standing orders, it is proposed that officers leave their primary and secondary school-going children in Uganda,” Ms Mugasa said.
Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Vincent Bagiire said this will enable such children appreciate the country’s education system.
“The service officers we deploy to missions, with the exception of heads and deputy heads of missions, work for four years. We need to discuss the aspect of children going abroad to study and then returning to the country and getting their learning distorted,” Mr Bagiire said.
But the State minister for Foreign Affairs, in charge of Regional Affairs, Mr John Mulimba, expressed fears that the suggestion risks affecting marriages.
“We are aware that children need the care and attention of their parents. We are also aware that so many families have broken up because of separation from their children. It is true there are financial constraints, but there’s also a question of human rights, especially of children,” Mr Mulimba said.
Among other proposals in the new standing orders are that the government stops paying for an additional 50Kg baggage for the staff and families on vacation.
The latest proposals seek to revise standing orders that have been in place since January 2011. The revision process commenced in 2018.
Missions abroad are for three main purposes; economic/commercial, consular services and political cooperation.
Some serve only one, two or all three, which also partly explains the relevance of a huge government budget. –