Government is being called upon to motivate teachers if it is to achieve its goal of skilling Uganda.
Margaret Rwabushaija, the chairperson of the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), on her way to Tororo for the Labour Day celebrations tells Redpepper Online that government forgets that it is teachers who are the drivers of this initiative.
Uganda is marking the International Labour day celebrations under the theme, Skilling Ugandans for increased Labour Productivity: “A shared responsibility.”
Rwabushaija says that they are forced to celebrate the day because it is being marked internationally otherwise deep down in their hearts, they do not have reason to do so.
She adds that currently teachers are struggling with some still being deleted from the payroll yet those who earn a salary have to wait months for it.
UNATU represents more than 80,000 teachers in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.
Last year the ministry of education promised to increase teachers’ pay by 20 percent in the 2013/2014 budget despite teachers demanding for a 100 percent pay increase.
The increment will mean that the least paid teacher will earn about 360,000 shillings up from the current 270,000 shillings.
However, Rwabushaija says they are tired of waiting for these increment promises to come true as they to live on hope due to the children they serve and the love for their jobs.
Alice Alaso, the Serere Woman MP, who is a member of the Education committee, agrees with Rwabashaija saying teachers have been disregarded by their salaries not being increased.
On the theme skilling Ugandans, Alaso adds that what is going on are good theories and themes, but the reality is very different in the labour sector.
She wonders whether government has set up a comprehensive plan to skill Ugandans considering that until to-date, the vocational and technical sector is the least funded in the education department.
This is worsened by the fact that the few vocational institutions that are available are dysfunctional and the NRM has still failed to fulfil its manifesto promise of ensuring that each sub county has a vocational school.
Until the labour market is motivated with a proper minimum wage being put in place by government, Alaso is of the view that Ugandans will continue being exploited and paid meagre wages per month.
In February this year during the launch of skilling Uganda Project Government budgeted two trillion shillings that will cater for formal and informal training institutions. The trainings will be carried out by both government and the private sector.
Minister of State for Higher Education, Dr. John Chrysostom Muyingo takes recognizance of government’s failure to set up vocational institutions in each district but says this is because of lack of money.
Speaking to our reporter, Muyingo says he was expecting enough money but what government is budgeting is not adequate for the project.
He reiterated the fact that many Ugandans still believe in getting degrees to better their lives instead of parents and students appreciating vocational schools and starting small.
He concludes that it’s for these reasons that Uganda is still a long way or not in achieving the Skilling Uganda project.