The Uganda National Teachers’ Union calls on the Government to urgently finance the recruitment of 22,000 primary school teachers and provide them with decent working and living conditions. It is the only way to provide quality education for all.
The Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sports has asked the Finance Ministry to dedicate the resources necessary for quality education, reconsider their wage bill and allow the ministry to recruit 22,000 primary school teachers.
“We were told there is no budget for teacher recruitment, yet we have a deficit of 22,000 teachers in all primary schools across the country. We call upon Finance to improve the wage bill for us to be able to recruit new teachers,” Assistant Commissioner for Primary Education Tonny Mukasa Lusambu announced on 6 September.
He also regretted that there are still 320 parishes without any government-aided primary school, contrary to government policy asking every parish to have a primary school.
“The teachers’ challenges are many. They have no accommodations and have heavy workloads because the pupil-teacher ratio, which should be 40 pupils to one teacher, currently stands at 53 to 1. Many rural schools are struggling with a teacher handling 100 pupils,” Lusambu said.
The Ministry of Finance spokesperson Jim Mugunga, however, insisted that that teacher recruitment should be planned for and that they won’t employ people they are not ready to pay: “In the past, people would be recruited and spend six months without pay. That was abuse of one’s rights. They need to plan, undertake human resource needs and budget for them. Planning is not waking up that day and say you want 22,000 teachers. We no longer recruit without prior plans to pay their wages.”
The Ministry of Education and Sports, through its Departments of Basic Education and Teacher Instructor Education Training, met on 8 September with nearly 4,000 teachers across the country for a two-day conference at St Lawrence London College in Wakiso District to discuss issues affecting them.
“We have many run-down structures, especially in the old traditional schools, which are in poor state and need rehabilitation. We hope to use the conference to empower teachers and emphasise that they matter if the nation is to develop,” Lusambu added prior to the event.
Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) General Secretary Filbert Baguma urged the government to rationalise salary payments as many of their members continue to miss their remunerations while others find unexplained deductions and increases.
“Teachers are demotivated,” he warned. “You are in your class waiting for your salary and at the end of the month, it is not there. You have obligations and cannot meet them. You spend time looking for alternatives to make ends meet. You cannot be at the district and in class at the same time, so you skip lessons, which is affecting your performance.”
To overcome the hurdles, Baguma went on to urge the government to implement the teachers’ scheme of service and introduce an automated system through which teachers easily secure a place on the retirement payroll upon reaching retirement age.