Teachers of government aided primary and secondary school teachers have Monday September 16, the first day of the third and promotional term started a strike after pleas for a pay rise were ignored by the Ministry of Education and Sports.
The teachers are demanding a 20 percent pay increase and better working conditions. A primary teacher in Uganda earns about 250,000 shillings per month per month, while secondary school counterparts take home 450,000 shillings.
The Red Pepper investigative team reports that severe schools around the country have so far opened to no lessons as we wait for the day to unfold.
The chairman of the Budget Committee of Parliament, Mr Tim Lwanga, has said there is no money to pay for increased salary of teachers. “As far as I know, there is no money in the Budget short of cutting from priority areas. I don’t know why people are not being told the fact directly,” Mr Lwanga told the reporters on Sunday.
Mr Lwanga’s committee was last Friday instructed by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to sit with officials from the Ministry of Finance to find money for the teachers, according to sources. But yesterday Mr Lwanga, who is also Kyamuswa County MP, said he had not been part of any discussion “to that extent” and that he was awaiting instructions from the Executive.
Mr Lwanga said the donors’ decision to withhold aid had created a Shs750b loophole in the Budget. “People forget that we require Shs250b not only to pay teachers but the low-paid civil servants, the police and the soldiers,” he said.
“The teachers made a resolution that Monday, they will not be in school teaching, and we made it very clear to everybody after giving a notice to government of 90 days as required by law,” said James Tweheyo Uganda’s National Teachers Union (UNATU).
“Government has come out with some statements that schools should be open. Yes schools will open, but we are saying a school without teachers is only a building, and we cannot pretend that things are going on well,” he added.
But the teachers insist the government has refused to meet the their’ demands, despite its repeated appeals to call off the strike. The government has threatened to fire striking teachers.
“Of course we know that government can do anything and we are prepared for a backlash, including an attempt to chase the teachers away from the job,” said Tweheyo. “We have said the government should act because government holds the key, it has the money and tomorrow if it is done, we are ready to settle down to class and teach these children to our best.”
MPs last Friday blocked the passing of the Education ministry budget demanding that government finds Shs130 billion to facilitate a 20 per cent salary increase for teachers. Teachers say they have identified about Shs243b mainly in travel and conference allowances which can be diverted to their cause.