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Government is committed to improving teachers' welfare

By Vision Reporter

Added 5th September 2011 03:00 AM

FOR quite some time now, the Government and the leadership of the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) have been engaged in a discussion regarding the remuneration and the welfare of teachers.

FOR quite some time now, the Government and the leadership of the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) have been engaged in a discussion regarding the remuneration and the welfare of teachers.


FOR quite some time now, the Government and the leadership of the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) have been engaged in a discussion regarding the remuneration and the welfare of teachers.

These discussions were progressing very well with consensus on many issues. Indeed both UNATU and the Government were in agreement that the teachers have a genuine cause. The only area of debate was in the timing and by how much.

While the Government is proposing that the salary increment should be phased over a period of time, the teachers are insisting that the increment should be by 100% and immediately. Government is also against selective award of salary increments, but is instead planning salary increases for all public sector workers over a period of time. Negotiations were thus supposed to continue as the teachers report for the opening of the new school term.

However in a strange turn of events the teachers' union issued an ultimatum that they will not report for duty until and unless all their demands were met.
For the benefit of the public, it should be noted that the initial demand from the teachers was a salary increment of 30%. At least this is what was contained in a memo that was signed by the teachers representatives, Margaret Rwabushaija and Teopista Birungi Mayanja in a memo to be presented in a meeting with the Minister of Education and Sports, Jessica Alupo on July 4. However the Government on its own initiative and following consultations between the Ministries of Public Service, Finance and Education, committed itself to a phased increment for all public sector workers over a period of three yeas.

The Government even proposed a 50% increment for primary school teachers which is higher than the 30% they had initially demanded. It should also be noted that the Government highly values the role of teachers in the development of the human resource of the country. It is because of this that deliberate efforts have been made to remunerate teachers as a special category of public servants.

That is why, for instance, a teacher in salary scale U7 will earn about sh280,000 while other public servants in the same scale will earn about sh200,000. And this trend will continue until Government is able to pay a living wage for all its employees in line with the available resource envelope.
It is also in this spirit that the Government recently introduced a scheme of service where teachers are promoted on basis of their period of service.

Thus a grade III teacher will, depending on performance and period of service, be promoted from Education Assistant to Senior Education Assistant ant to Principal Education Assistant with a corresponding increment in remuneration. This will apply to all ladders of the teaching profession including graduate teachers.

Previously, this practice was not in existence. Thus the major issue for all Ugandans now is that public service employees are paid a wage that is sustainable and realistic. It would be unfortunate for Government to yield to pressure from one section of its employees and pledge a salary that is not in tandem with what the country’s coffers can afford.

For the record, a salary increment of 100% plus pensions for all teachers as proposed by tUNATU will lead to a wage bill of over sh840b against a total budget of slightly over sh1tn for the entire education sector for the 2011/2012 financial year. Therefore, while Government appreciates the concerns of the teachers, there other obligations including UPE, USE and classroom construction that cannot and should not be suspended if we must deliver meaningful services to the population.

It is against this background that teachers are expected to report for work at the beginning of the new school term. Anything short of this will leave Government with no option but to resort to administrative and legal procedures to address the situation.

Otherwise Government has shown willingness to negotiate and reach a compromise on the teachers’ demands. Government has also demonstrated commitment to increasing salaries of all public sector workers but with emphasis on teachers effective financial year

Government is committed to improving teachers' welfare

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