Your Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda, on behalf of my colleagues, the entire teaching fraternity, allow me to thank you for accepting to meet us in spite of your busy schedule.
Allow me, Your Excellency in a special way to thank our Honourable Minister of Education and Sports who has continued to work hard in ensuring that there is harmony in the education and Sports sectors which she heads by endeavoring to settle disputes as they arise.
Your Excellency, before you is the National Executive Council (NEC) of Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU). The NEC is the policy making body of the Union which comprises teacher leaders representing different regions, education sub sectors and special interest groups. They are from Primary, Secondary and Tertiary institutions.
While there are many teacher and education issues at hand, as a Union, we believe that the main concern at hand is the matter of the unfulfilled commitment for teachers’ salary increment in FY 2022/23. This increment was agreed upon on 22nd June 2018 when a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was signed between Government and Public Service Unions including UNATU. It is the breach of this agreement that has led to the on-going teachers’ industrial action which began in 2019; was temporarily suspended to give time to Government to find money to fully implement the CBA and resumed on 15th June 2022. It is unfortunate that four years down the road, we are still protesting over Government’s deliberate disregard of the commitment made in the CBA.
Your Excellency, as we sit here today, we are categorized into Government (the employer) on one side and the teacher representatives on the other side. Government has communicated their current stand on the issue of the teachers’ salary enhancement for FY 2022/23 with a promised enhancement to a selected category of teachers considered as scientists. This was pronounced in the National budget for FY 2022/23 which was read by the Hon. Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development on 14th June 2022.
Your Excellency, we have endeavored to explain our stand to you on this matter on occasions where we have had an engagement. The last one being the National World Teachers’ Day celebrations commemorated on 12th October 2021 at Kololo Independence Grounds.
Allow me to re-clarify our stand.
Your Excellency and all the Government representatives present here, I request that you momentarily place yourselves in the shoes of the teachers of this country. Put aside politics; put aside your portfolio; put aside your influence and affluence and instead hold that piece of chalk, face the blackboard and walk a mile in the shoes of our teachers.
In all fairness, what would your reaction be on hearing that Government has increased the salary of your counterpart in the staff room by over 300% and deliberately ignored you because you teach in a different education sub-sector/ subject area? You have the same qualifications or even higher, have similar of even more teaching experience, handle the same or even greater work load than your counterpart. You go to the same markets, rent in the same areas and live in the same harsh economy where commodity and service prices are escalating almost on a daily basis. You teach the same learners with a subject combination of different subject areas i.e., PEM, MEG, BCG, BAG among others
Your Excellency and the representatives of Government present, we agree with you to some extent that science is a tool for development and therefore important. Your Excellence, you have made it clear that there is a grand plan for scientists and you are not willing to let anyone ‘sabotage’ this plan.
UNATU is not trying to disrupt your grand plan for the scientists, we are only asking for a MODIFICATION to ensure that there is harmony in the teaching and learning environment for the benefit of the innocent learners.
How fair is an increment of over 300% for science teachers against NOTHING for other categories of teachers? These same teachers have been earning a 30% Scientists allowance above all other teachers since 2012. Enhancing their salaries to the tune of 3-5 times more than their counterparts who are NOT getting a coin is not only unfair, and unjust, it also contravenes the Constitutional provision that is clear on the right to equal pay for equal work without discrimination.
The decision to segregate salary enhancements for teachers to that tune YET an agreed pay plan is in place is unfair and should be modified before implementation begins on 1st July 2022. This is the gist of the industrial action. Why not phase the percentages?
Your Excellency, the Government may not be fully aware of the gravity of this situation since they are not on ground. As, UNATU we have representatives in every school and education institution in Uganda. They have shared with us what is going on. Unfortunately, the situation is not rosy.
Allow me to share with you, the chaos that the budgetary announcement of a 300-500% increment for science teachers with nothing at all for other categories of teachers has caused.
i. In some of the schools/ education institutions, the teachers have separated staff rooms into Arts and Sciences. Is this the outcome that Government intended to receive?
ii. In some of the schools/ education institutions, the grudges of Arts Vs Sciences have become personal that some teachers no longer see eye to eye. Is this the team work that Government desires to create within our schools?
iii. In some of the schools/ education institutions, the science teachers have become very braggart and unmanageable; after all they are set to earn not only more than their counterparts but also more than their supervisors such as the Head Teacher and Deputy, DEO, DIS, HR Officer and the CAO. Is it Government’s goal to create a clique of the ‘untouchables’ in our schools?
iv. Using the same language as Government, our students have started branding their Arts/Humanities teachers and peers as ‘Comedians’, ‘entertainers’, ‘singers’ among others. Why belittle the Arts/Humanities field which is the foundation for careers in Public Policy, Law, Social Work, Business, Education, media & communications, Human Rights Activism, Diplomacy, Psychology, Politics (Advisory & analysis) among others.
v. The teachers in the Primary Education sub-sector who are at the foundation are very disheartened that almost 100% of these schools are currently closed.
With all due respect, Your Excellency, allow me to also share the disappointment of the teachers in Hon. Wilson Muruli Mukasa, the Minister of Public Service who on 15th June 2022 issued a press statement to try and intimidate teachers into returning to the classroom. The very, person who hosted the discussions on the CBA and also breached it, opted to openly misinform the public that a series of meetings have been held to discuss the issues raised by UNATU. Our communication and reminders on the CBA to Hon. Muruli from 2018 to date remain un answered. We have all the evidence!
While Hon. Muruli promptly paid in full some categories of civil servants in the CBA, particularly those in Phase 1, teachers who were supposed to benefit in Phase 2 received only 25% of the expected increment. Out of UGX524bn, for FY2019/20, Government only paid UGX135bn to the teachers. It was therefore expected that the unpaid UGX389bn would be paid in FY 2020/21 which was not done. What is even more disturbing is that despite several reminders, Ministry of Public Service did not only deviate from the agreed salary enhancement plan but went ahead to present proposals to Parliament with discriminatory salary enhancements.
Your Excellency, the teachers have only one demand; That Government agrees to implement the CBA as agreed upon without discrimination. Some categories of civil servants are already earning salaries from the same CBA. Why does the practice change when it comes to teachers???
The expected increment for FY 2022/23 is as follows;
|1||Principal Comprehensive schools/NTC, UCC||UI-SE||12,200,000|
|2||Principal PTC, Tech schs/ Deputy Principal NTC, UCC||U1-E||10,000,000|
|3||Head Teacher (Secondary)||U1-E||10,000,000|
|4||Deputy Head Teacher (Secondary)||U2||7,400,000|
|5||Science Teachers at Principal Level||U2 SC||7,800,000|
|6||Science Teachers at Senior level||U3 SC||6,000,000|
|8||Science Teachers at Graduate level||U4 SC||4,800,000|
|9||U4 Arts Teacher||U4||4,500,000|
|10||Science teachers at Diploma level||U5-SC||3,000,000|
|11||U5 Arts teacher||U5||2,700,000|
|12||Head Teacher (Primary)||U4||4,500,000|
|13||Deputy Head Teacher (Primary)||U5||2,700,000|
|14||Senior Education Assistant||U6||1,600,000|
|16||Non-Formal Education teachers (Trial terms)||U8||500,000|
Your Excellency, it is clear that in the CBA that we signed, the Science teachers were already set to earn more than their colleagues as you desire EXCEPT that the difference in pay was reasonable and fair.
WHY DID GOVERNMENT TAKE US BACK BY DEVIATING FROM THIS PLAN THAT WAS MEANT TO HARMONISE SALARIES FOR TEACHERS ONCE AND FOR ALL? WHY DO THEY KEEP PUNISHING OUR LEARNERS WHO ALREADY LOST SO MUCH DURING THE LOCKDOWN BY AGGRAVATING THEIR TEACHERS????
Your Excellency, teacher issues are not at all about politics but about the future of our nation’s children. I want to assure you that our struggle is to improve the quality of education in this country through improved teacher welfare.
UNATU is very conscious of our professional obligations towards the learners, the profession and the community, except we are finding it difficult to mobilize teachers to settle and concentrate in class without a positive consideration to their genuine concern of FAIR salary enhancement. This time around, the teachers are very disappointed.
Government has created a division between those who are going to receive a 300-500% increment and those who are receiving NOTHING! As UNATU, we raised the red flag against discriminatory increments BUT Government deliberately refused to listen. Now, here we are. The usual empty promises of WAITING for next Financial Year will not work because there is a category of teachers getting 3-5 times more yet others are not getting anything.
Our Honourable Minister for education, you are fondly referred to as the mother of this nation. We believe that teachers are also your children. We beseech you to take a FAIR stand for ALL your teachers. In 2019, under similar circumstances, you shared across board the little ‘food’ that you found for your children. Why is it that this time around, you have allowed one child to take all the food and even an extra share and leave others starving?
Your Excellency, I am merely a messenger for the teachers and those are their sentiments.
“Because we are, the Nation is”
“FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY”
BAGUMA FILBERT BATES
18th June, 2022