Jan 31, 2023

Mawazo Writing Africa

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Uganda government stops threats, calls for talks to end arts teachers’ strike

Just days after threatening to sack all arts teachers involved in the industrial action, the Ugandan government has backed down and invited teachers’ union leaders to negotiate to end the ongoing strike that has disrupted learning in public schools for two Weeks now paralysed.

More than 100,000 art teachers laid down their tools on June 15 over what the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) called a discriminatory pay rise.

The government provided over 300 percent salary increase for science teachers in budget for fiscal year 2022-23 beginning in July.

The US$95 billion ($25.6 million) allocation did not include arts and and Humanities.

Read:Uganda’s arts teachers strike in protest at unfair pay rise

Last week Catherine Bitarakwate, undersecretary for the Department of Public I services, the striking teachers, that if they had not returned to class by Thursday 30 June, they would be considered to have been terminated and taken off the payroll.

But after Ms Bitarakwate’s severe criticism exposed, she hastily withdrew and on Monday invited Unatu officials to July 1st talks.

On Tuesday, the Department of Education PS Alex Kakooza, Unatu also hosted a meeting under the Chaired by Vice President Jessica Alupo on Wednesday, June 29 to “discuss ways to end the ongoing teachers’ strike”.

“For us, we laid our issues before them. Our position remains the same. We will go and listen to them as they say they are ready to address these issues,” said Unatu Secretary General Filbert Baguma.

On June 18, President Museveni called a meeting with the Unatu Executive Council . and Education and Civil Service Ministers, during which he told teacher leaders to call off the strike and get back to work as the government’s priority is science teachers.

After the meeting, they declined Unatu leaders refused to end the strike Industrial disputes that led to a spate of threats from government officials who called the strike illegal.

Read:Museveni: Pay rise only for science teachers, not arts

< p>An elementary school teacher currently earns US$568,000 ($153.4) per month, while a graduate student and a college teacher in a secondary school make US$745,000 ($199, $8) and $1.1 million ($297.1) respectively.

Under the new budget allocation, science teachers will take home $3 million ($798) for diploma holders and earn $4 million ($1), 078) for university teachers.

The teachers’ strike, which came just five months after schools in Uganda reopened after a two-year shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has already outraged more than eight million people Children in public schools miss out on learning.