By Anthony Mugabira
It is true most teachers deserve a better pay but they are surely on a wrong ship called workers unions that is sailing them to the very wrong direction. Salary should always be a reflection of one’s service and effort.
There is no problem with employees and workers banding themselves together to address concerns and grievances at work for instance teachers being posted without consideration of their first language and family attachments. It is just fine to make an argument for such teachers not to report on duty unless accommodation and family concerns are addressed.
What surely is not applicable in this error of capitalism is the collective bargaining for salary increment and benefits. One would ask how I expect thousands of teachers to make their own deals without a collective voice of Uganda National Teachers Unions. My answer is handing the schools back to the Parents Teachers Associations (PTA), who can independently monitor the teachers and there after kill the unions.
The role of teachers unions like UNATU is to protect the mediocre. A great teacher, giving all to the school each day does not need a union to be secure. It is those who do not give all who seek protection from unions.
Throughout my days in school, and still believe till this day, there is a spectrum of characters of teachers, from those who are hard working to those who are too lousy to even mark exams, some teachers even award (read donate) marks basing on the pronunciation of student’s name. Parents and students very well know the good teachers.
My advice to the teachers is to make themselves indispensible, make it that the school would lose grades if you were not there performing your duty. And this applies to any vocation.
Most people surely feel for the teachers under the unions, many of them are honestly hard working, it is also very painful that the few who run the unions perpetually forge negative image by using the concerns of these very resourceful people as platforms to launch their political and social agenda. This has always happened throughout the history of civilization.
At this moment we don’t need a union that has gone off the rails. I wish the unions where advocating for proper housing, improving teaching conditions and safety issues. We need labour laws and not communist political unions. If we have good labour laws, then we need not the unions, and if the unions are not helping us advocate for the better laws, then we kill it.
Now that the unions are dead, how do we solve the educational problems including this of remuneration of teachers who need to lead a comfortable life? We strengthen the Parents Teachers Associations.
Parents and Teachers Associations should be charged with the responsibility of topping up the salary of teachers, and the condition should be that teachers be rewarded according to the performance of their students. So the teacher who strives to produce better grades gets more pay than those who spend all their time moving from bar to the next. Such a metric pulls the grades in schools higher.
Schools are best run by the local people at the local level. Only then shall we see widespread confidence return into the schools especially the public schools and also see teachers earn from their efforts.
The writer is a software architect