Sep 25, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Uganda arts teachers on strike to protest unfair pay raise

Teachers across Uganda have shut down their tools, threatening to plunge the country’s education sector into another crisis, just months after schools were closed for two years and thousands of learners were kept at home.

< p>But the current crisis is man-made, chaotic and multifaceted.

Barely a week after the national budget was presented in parliament on June 14, the huge Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) called in an industrialist on action when they learned of an allocation for a 300+ percent pay increase for science teachers and nothing for those teaching arts and humanities.

Unatu has called the budget decision a discriminatory policy.

As of press time, the strike had paralyzed learning in more than 12,000 public elementary schools, teachers were absent for the second week, and after a June 18 meeting by President ent Yoweri Museveni was convened and chaired, with ministers no solution in sight Education and Public Service, a decision was not reached.

The meeting at State House Entebbe was attended by the Minister for Education and First Lady Janet Museveni, the Minister for Civil Service, Muruli Mukasa, and Minister of State for Primary Education, Joyce Kaducu, among other senior government officials. Unatu was represented by its national chairman, Zadock Tumuhimbise, and general secretary, Filbert Baguma.

The faculty come in

But before the Unatu headache subsides, an even greater pain emerges from the public university on lecturers who – via the 10 chairmen of the university councils – have informed the government that they would resume their industrial action, which was suspended in March 2021.

“This is an issue that has been around for about seven years. We want it to be addressed in the next fiscal year if we want peaceful universities,” said Dr. Robert Kakuru, Chair of the Makerere University Academic Staff Association, who co-signed the June 17 notice.

The notice, A copy seen by The EastAfrican, is also attached copied the ministers for education, civil service and finance and questioned the 2022-23 budget, which allegedly ignored presidential instructions and previous resolutions on lecturers’ salaries.

The lecturers cite a letter dated May 3, sent by the Secretary of Education to the Treasury Department asking for an additional $223 billion ($60.24 million) in the next budget, “around 100 percent agreed salary target” for college faculty.

With the crises mounting under his watch, President Museveni – who often lashes civil servants and officials for demanding higher salaries – called a meeting with the Executive Council of Unatu on June 18 to discuss the immediate Averting crisis, but the two sides disagreed.

“Your disruptive plans are unacceptable,” President Museveni told Unatu leaders, insisting the government would go ahead with its plans for science teachers.

“In principle, we will all pay well, but for now let’s focus on one aspect. Don’t tell me about this labor dispute. Go and work,” added a disgruntled President Museveni.

However, the President instructed that Ministers for Education, Public Services and Finance review the union’s plan and see how to deal with their pay hike .

Read:Museveni: Salary increase only for science teachers, not arts

In 2018, the government and Unatu signed a collective agreement stating that the salaries of all teachers should be the same improved, but when the government decided to increase salaries for scientists from July 2022 as part of its innovation strategy, science teachers also demanded their involvement and therefore turned away from their arts peers.

An elementary school teacher currently earns $568,000 ($153.4), while a diploma holder and a high school diploma teacher make $795,000 ($214.7) and $1.1, respectively million US dollars (297.1 US dollars dollars) to take home. Under the proposed scheme, science teachers will earn a salary of US$4 million (US$1,078).

Mr Baguma told The EastAfrican the solution was in the government’s hands , as they could submit a supplementary budget to meet art teacher salary demands within the next fiscal year.

“How can you expect an art teacher to give his colleague a salary increase of over 300 percent and keep him working happily?” It’s the same class, workload, and work environment.

“We’re known for supplementary budgets in this country, so we can raise that money,” he said.

Im Budget of US$48.1 trillion (12.97 billion two-unit labs in 21 secondary schools, currently excluding labs.

Approximately US$95 billion (US$25.6 million) is for a salary increase for science teachers is envisaged.

This, Mr Kasaija said, was in line with government policy on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as Uganda seeks to boost its innovation opportunities in the fourth industrial revolution to increase.

“We need scientists for our transformation agenda, for sectors like road construction, while the service sector houses both scientists and artists,” said Denis Mugimba, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Sport.

Dr Mugimba said, the teachers’ strike affects only public primary schools, while teaching at secondary, college and university levels continues as normal.

Staff complement

There are currently 347,219 teachers in Uganda, of whom 183,397 are in private schools , according to Ministry of Education data.

Uganda’s education sector is dominated by private schools at the pre-primary and secondary levels, while public schools account for the lion’s share of enrollments at the elementary and college levels.

According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics, there are 34,000 elementary schools, but only 12,400 are public schools, with eight million learners versus three million in private schools.

At the secondary level, out of over 5,000 schools, only 1,400 are public schools with about 800,000 learners and 30,822 teachers, compared to 1.4 million learners with 84,000 teachers in private schools.

In the President’s directive and cabinet decisions of August 24, 2021, Museve said ni that all science teachers should receive monthly pay increases beginning in fiscal year 2022-23 to reach $4 million for college graduates and $3 million for diploma holders.

The pay rise is consistent with the National Development Plan III 2020-25 and the Manifesto of the National Resistance Movement 2021-26.

The two plans depend on science and innovation, with the NDP III, for example, focusing on value-added additions to agriculture, tourism , minerals, ICT, oil and gas, and knowledge that has high potential for job creation and a positive multiplier effect for other sectors.

President Museveni and the Ministry of Education claim that arts teachers should be patient as their Salaries to be raised in the 2023/24 budget, but experts say Uganda has a history of promising pay rises and not delivering them.

E s needs industrial action to get the government to act, as was c B. at the start of the second term on May 9th when science teachers went on strike to demand money for their salaries.

< p>“It’s the same problem, but in a different context,” argues Dr. Mugimba.

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Even as the battle for pay rises rages on, experts question the impact of increased pay on the innovations the government seeks.

According to Frederick Dongo-Shema , President of the Association of Biology Teachers, advocacy groups should shift to things like how long it will take for well-paid science teachers to reduce the 45 percent fail rate recorded in non-science subjects to less than 10 percent. Or how long it will take to increase the proportion of high school graduates in natural sciences from the current 10 percent.

Questions of the universities’ ability to absorb the expected boom in natural science students and the promotion of students to become innovators are also relevant , designing science courses that are relevant to the needs of the population, and reversing the rate of turnover of science teachers leaving the profession.