By Col Felix Kulayigye
“My brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers. As you know, we teachers will be judged with greater strictness than others” James 3:1.
The media has been awash with demands for more pay for Teachers, for Doctors, for Police Officers, for Scientist etc. In short every public servant wants a pay rise because, some people have argued, the President has been seen donating money to youth, to bereaved families and others.
As a student of economics I know that in public finance, there is recurrent and non-recurrent expenditure. Recurrent expenditure must be made periodically, in this case per month and are fixed, while donations are a one off and are not fixed. Thus, it is not wise to use Presidential donations as a measure to prove availability of money.
It is in order for the teachers to demand a pay rise and I would recommend the increase to be made in installments of 10% this year and 10% next Financial Year. Then the following conditions must be set.
(1) Teachers must stop part-timing, that is they should give full time in the government schools. The current situation is that many teachers in government schools, pay lip-service to the official work and spend time in private schools where they are paid less, moreover. They are committed in the private schools because when they do not teach, there is no pay, yet in the government school, whether he turns up or not, the salary goes to the account. This is corruption, to receive pay for work not done.
(2) Let the teachers be available to the learners in all school activities like clubs, debating, counseling and guidance. This will enable the country have educated young people, otherwise the status –quo now is that teachers are rare, even when they are, learners are not allowed to ask questions. In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul is advising teachers to try their best to win God’s approval and in verse 16 warns against profane discussions. So when I see Hon Sehungu,MP, Kalungu West, a teacher by profession putting more stress on pay and not performance, I don’t get surprised that he did not even know that the second best candidate in Mathematics last year is from his constituency. A USE (BONNA BASOME SCHOOL).
(3) The new salaries should be paid by committees comprised of school boards and officials from the district. The officials would include DEO’s and Inspectors of Schools. The class monitoring forms will be the guide, so that only those that have been teaching earn the pay. Thus, these class monitoring/teaching forms should be used and respected by teachers. Otherwise, today I know some teachers in USE schools do not honour them.
On another note, when I hear that teachers are downing their pieces of chalk, I realise that it is the poor Ugandan to suffer again. This is because some schools have already opened and learning is taking place. Thus, our elected leaders should be interested in seeking a workable solution and not dance over the matter as if it is a concern for the President and Minister for Education alone.
Then this UNATU talking on behalf of teachers; how many did they consult before they begun these declarations! Secondly, why are they moblising through NASSHU, Head teachers and schools to join the industrial action for a cause that would get automatic support!
I remember in the entire 1990s the NRA/UPDF struggled to convince public service to harmonies the soldier’s pay with the rest of the civil service to no avail. Indeed a Captain was earning 99,000 shillings in 1999; did we down our tools!! No because we believe in the teaching of the good shepherded. It is a hiring that runs away from his job either in the face of danger or because the pay is insufficient. I therefore invite the teachers to read Matthew 18: 12-14.
In human history, the oldest professions are prostitution and teaching; one is despicable, while the other is noble. The former is for material gain, while teaching is for nurturing and mentoring a nation. That is why some of us regard commercialization of teaching as an obscenity un heard of in the history of education. The only profession that makes national responsible and an ethical citizen is the teaching one, which is why the first gratification of a true genuine teacher is success of his /her products.
This UNATU I have learnt of in recent times is it aware that despite government delivering text books in USE schools, (which were hither to the responsibility of parents), teachers don’t use them, in same remote schools they deny students access to them!!! Or have we not witnessed students maimed others mistreated by those that are supposed to nurture them, but parents are intimidated into silence for fear of harassment of their children.
I thought professional Associations not only defend rights of their members but also promote standards and ethics so as to ensure a good reputation for the members. There are people that ended up in the teaching profession not out of choice, it is some of these that are commercialising it.
The writer is the UPDF Political Commissar