President Museveni has once against walked a different line with teachers’ body, UNATU over the discriminatory salary increment, especially for science teachers.
Government this year implemented its plan of increasing salaries for science teachers and consequently, the monthly salary of a secondary school Science teacher is now between Shs2.5 million and Shs4.2 million , up from between Shs795,000 and Shs858,000.
This has been to the detriment of their arts counterparts.
Speaking during the world teacher’s day celebrations at Kololo independence grounds on Wednesday, the president said that government will not backtrack on the decision and asked UNATU leadership not to resist his efforts or put him under pressure .
He insisted that government is prioritizing scientists first to encourage science and technology innovation under a science-led development strategy.
“I want to inform the teachers that money is not made by witchcraft and secondly, I’m not God who in the book of Genesis said let there be earth and water and it was made. For us in NRM we don’t do things by miracle, we do things by work, sacrifice and struggle. When it comes to expenditure, you must prioritize. If somebody is against prioritization we disagree and we can only have a fall out,” Museveni said as he warned teachers to stop
In response, the UNATU General Secretary Filbert Baguma who spoke highly about the role of teachers at the forefront of transforming education, informed the president that whereas he remains committed to implementing his grand plan for scientists, this does not take away the fact that a 300% salary increment for one category of teachers against nothing (0%) for others is unfair.
“We appreciate what was given to one category of teachers and we look forward to you keeping your promise to bring all other categories of teachers on board since the increment has left the teaching fraternity disunited and has affected the team work which is required for the delivery of quality education,”Baguma said.
He also presented the plight of teachers in private institutions who decried about job security and salary disparities.
“These teachers request for support from the government in setting minimum pay regulations for teachers in private education institutions. Many meet challenges in trying to access bank loans and others are working for meagre pay with threats of dismissal if they complain. This can change if there is a regulation on the minimum pay for a private teacher.”
In response, the president who described himself as a licensed teacher who has been teaching since 1965, said all these years he has been teaching with no pay or little pay.
“I taught people who created a new army the NRA which did not exist, now called Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) starting with five people in 1971 and for 17 years (1971 to 1987), I was teaching these soldiers to defend Uganda and contribute to security of the region with no pay but for patriotism,” Museveni said, adding that he doesn’t need a long lecture about the importance of teachers “because I am a teacher myself”.
He said since 2006 the NRM government has been prioritizing developing its infrastructure like roads and electricity to facilitate production.
“We were putting more money (shs6 trillion) on roads because we know that connectivity and electricity were important,” he added.
Education for economic transformation
The president told teachers that he wants a model of education focused on achieving the much-desired socio-economic transformation in Uganda.
“Because now we are not under the kings, we are not colonial agents. We are a National Resistance Movement. Our mission is socio-economic transformation of our people by moving away from the non-money, traditional, pre-capitalist non-money economy to a money economy with a society, composed of the middle class and the skilled working class,” Museveni said.
Whereas the day is celebrated every October, 5, this year, Uganda postponed its celebrations to Wednesday under the theme, ” Transformation of education begins with teachers.”
Flanked by the First Lady and Education Minister, Janet Kataha Museveni, the president told teachers that whereas education is an element in socio-economic transformation, it must be the right type which addresses the country’s needs to get rid of peasants producing another peasant.
“This one we don’t accept. The NRM says we must build a skilled working- class society like in Europe where the whole society is either middle class or skilled working class. Please teachers, if you want to help your country, get this. Let everybody enter into the money economy through education and the four sectors of agriculture, manufacturing, services and ICT.”
To achieve socio- economic transformation, the president called upon teachers to support his idea of free education to enable children of the poor study free in government school.
He however expressed dismay over non-cooperative headteachers that are obstructing this move by introducing unnecessary endless school charges that have in the end discouraged children from education and many have ended up dropping out of schools.
“When we introduced this in 1997, enrollment went up from two million children to over 10 million in primary schools, but up to now, you bring charges in schools and the children drop out. The completion rate in UPE is 32% in the whole of Uganda because children drop out due to the school charges. If the capitation grant is not enough, why don’t you raise that?”
He noted that this would enable the government to concentrate on building more classroom blocks and laboratories plus equipping them.
“Therefore teachers, I congratulate you on this day but I really want less obstruction and I will not accept threats.”
The Minister of Education and Sports Mama Janet Museveni described the day as an opportunity to hear
from each other.
“As one Runyankore proverb goes; “Ezaguruka zitaragaine ziterana amapapa” meaning that if two birds fly together without agreeing on how to go, they bump into each other’s wings. Therefore, it is wise and necessary
to set some time to hear from each other, especially since both government and the teaching profession play a major role in nation building,” she said.
Mrs Museveni said that teachers are not just supposed to teach in the classroom alone, but they are supposed to disciple nations.
“The training we give should indeed address the head, the heart and the hands and this should go beyond the classroom to the communities where we live. This means that teachers have a big role to play especially in
developing countries such as Uganda,” she added.
The Education Minister said the teacher as an agent of transformation should be a disciple-maker for the nation – raising responsible, skilled, and patriotic citizens who love their God but also love their neighbours just as they love themselves.
She said government sees teachers as part of the solution, offering feasible alternatives that are sustainably transformational.
On the other hand, UNATU Secretary General, Baguma called for operationalization of the national teachers policy; fast tracking the establishment of the National Teacher Council and full operationalization of the Uganda National Institute of Teacher Education (UNITE) with an independent budget vote.
He also requested government to subsidize the tuition costs or even implement an education loan scheme to attract more teachers to upgrade in time and get the required minimum qualifications.
Baguma further called upon colleagues in the profession to remain proud of who they are as great contributors in grooming other professions.
“Our influence is lifelong! It does not matter whether you teach arts/humanities or sciences and if you serve in the pre-primary, primary or post primary education sub-sector. All teachers matter. All teachers are
important. No one should ever make you feel inferior. You are all valued. Always remember that your contribution can not be taken for granted,” Baguma said.
At the same ceremony 12 teachers countrywide were awarded for their outstanding service.