Students of Apeulai PEAS High School in Amuria District (File Photo)

As schools in Uganda re-open following their closure as a preventive measure against the spread of the deadly Corona virus early last year, parents and guardians have to make school fees payments for their children.

This week will see Senior One students report to school, right after their Primary Four and Five counterparts who returned to school last week.

Bearing in mind that the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet behind us, paying school fees through a digital platform provides more than just convenience but it is also a safety measure that is well in line with the Covid-19 Standard Operation Procedures especially social distancing.

With the government encouraging people to limit their movements, Mobile Money payments come in handy as they limit the movement of hard cash that could potentially spread the virus as cash moves from one hand to the other.

Stephen Mutana the General Manager of Mobile Financial services said that today’s Mobile Money technology provides sophisticated and secure payment solutions for educational institutions to collect and manage fees transactions.

On the other hand, parents, guardians and students are afforded the convenience of paying fees from anywhere at any time without having to waste time queuing up in banking halls especially during these times when social distancing is still critical in the fight against the deadly virus.

“Our MTN Mobile Money platform is designed in such a way that parents and guardians can pay school fees for their children safely and securely without having to leave their homes, work places or offices.

It also limits the exchange of currency notes which elevates our endeavors against the covid-19 pandemic,” Mutana said.

Although this innovation has been around for a while now, this covid-19 crisis makes it even more useful as it limits human contact which remains key in the fight against Covid-19.

Jacinta Mukebezi who has been working from home since last year was impressed at how seamlessly she paid her son’s school fees last week as schools reopened their doors for Primary Four and Five pupils.

“I was worried of having to drive all the way to the bank, queue in the line yet I had a busy week. I simply called the school for my son’s student code and in a matter of minutes, I had paid his school fees without having to leave my house or drive to the bank,” said Mukebezi, “I received a confirmation code with my son’s name and details.”

Like Mukebezi, many parents encounter several inconveniences to their schedules while paying school fees for their children. Other parents have to commute miles to the nearest bank, thereby foregoing a great portion of their daily commitments for the day which in turn impacts their income, in addition to the money and time lost in transport to and from the bank.

However, a GSMA study about the Mobile Money use in Uganda revealed that Mobile money has the potential to extend the limited nature and reach of the formal financial sector.

Besides helping to organize the hitherto chaotic scene of domestic money transfers, mobile money can improve the national payments system by providing innovative ways to meet the transaction needs of ordinary people Emmanuel Mafabi, a tomato farmer in Manafwa district for instance doesn’t have to leave his farm to pay school fees for his four children.

“I pay their fees in small instalments. So if I had to go to the bank, it would mean many days of me not tending to my farm. After selling my tomatoes, I simply deposit the money on my phone and pay school fees,” he says.

“Infact during school fees time, I gladly ask my clients to pay me through Mobile Money so that I simply pay school fees without touching the money.”

Catherine Akello who pays school fees for two of her nieces in Lira lauds MTN MoMo school fees platform for making the process easy for her.

“I don’t have to run around looking for bankslips nor do I risk sending money to my alcoholic brother who simply wastes the money. I directly pay to the school and that way, my nieces can attend school,” Akello says.

Winnie Nansamba, a school bursar says that this mode of payment is convenient and easy for schools to work with since the notifications are captured online: “It is easier to track payments on this system as opposed to looking through stacks of paper.”

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