By Cornes Lubangakene, Ismael Kasooha & Wokorach-Oboi
Teachers of various government-aided schools across the country on Monday boycotted classes following calls for protest by the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU).
Monday ushered in the start of the third term of the annual school calendar but most students remained unattended to in class. The striking teachers are demanding a 20% pay rise.
Students at City High as their pictures are being taken. There were no teachers in class. PHOTO/Nicholas Kajoba
Some schools however defied the call by UNATU and went ahead to conduct classes as they would normally, while in other schools, teachers showed up but no lessons were conducted.
In Koch Goma sub-county, Nwoya district, the area chairman, John Bosco Okullu said all schools were open despite low attendance levels by pupils.
In the schools he visited Monday morning, at least half of the teachers were present.
Students of East Kololo in a near-empty classroom. PHOTO/Nicholas Kajoba
In Lalogi sub-county, Gulu district the area LC3 chairman, Richard Alima said some teachers reported but kept themselves in the staff rooms instead of inside classrooms.
“We have not started well because in a school like Aketket P.7, there were teachers but they are not in classrooms. At Minjar P.7 School, it is only P.7 classes that are being taught,” reported Alima.
The rippling effect of the strike did not spare the western parts of the country.
At Kagadi Model primary school in Kibale district, pupils showed up for classes as early as 7.30am local time (EAT) but their showing up was never replicated by their teachers.
The school which has an enrollment of over 1,000 pupils had at least half that number turn up for study. But all classes were locked and pupils could only pass time loitering in the compound.
Others camped outside their dormitories with their mattresses.
One pupil wondered why they were not communicated to about the closure of a planned closure of the school yet “we were told to report for third term today”.
The school head, Charles Bbosa refused to talk to the press and remained rooted at his residence inside the school.
Pupils of Kagadi Model primary school found their classrooms under lock and key. PHOTO/Ismael Kasooha
At Kagadi Muslim primary school in Kagadi town council, Kibaale district, the head teacher, Fabian Birungi was available and offices were open but teachers did not turn up.
Birungi, who has been a teacher for the last 36 years, called for a speedy solution to the problem.
According to him, Birungi the head teachers’ supervisory role was scrapped with the introduction of the electronic salary payment system.
“As a head teacher I had the power to determine whether a teacher should be paid or not basing on how they have taught.”
He went on about how teachers would make sure that their schemes of work and lesson plans were ever ready because they (head teachers) had power over the teachers.
“These days even if a teacher has not taught for the last two weeks he or she will smartly walk to the bank and get a salary,” said Birungi.
Other schools like Kikangara primary school in Buyanja County also had pupils but teachers did not turn up.
Kibaale district education officer, John Kyaboona said they are still compiling data to establish the number of teachers who reported for duty and would issue a statement later in the day.
In Kitgum district, pupils in several schools in and around town reported to school but their teachers were conspicuously absent between 9.00am and 10am local time.
It was about loitering and playing up and about in the compound for a bunch of idle pupils at Kitgum Public primary school earlier in the day.
“There are no teachers. I saw two of them this morning but they went away, “said one pupil.
“We are playing because there are no lessons going on.”
The school head-teacher, John Oyaro said only five teachers reported in the school in the morning and later disappeared.
The usually noisy school was enveloped in a state of emptiness Monday morning.
Pupils of Kitgum Prisons primary school found heading back home said there were no lessons conducted and had found only the head-teacher present at the school.