By Spy Uganda
Owners of private schools in Uganda have defied a government directive from the Ministry of Education and Sports to pay teachers their salaries for the months they haven’t been working due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, which saw the closure of all schools and higher institutions of learning in the country.
The directive which was issued a few days ago by the Education Ministry Permanent Secretary Alex Kakooza, has since been questioned by Private school owners, who wonder how they will be able to pay their teachers’ salary arrears yet the schools were and are still closed.
Last week, Kakooza wrote to school proprietors, informing them to meet their obligations and pay the teachers. “My attention has been drawn to various reports that other workers…are not being paid their due salaries. This is to remind you that you are required to pay your employees during lockdown,” he said.
They argue that government should respond to their demands and issue guidelines to enable them reopen the schools, instead of diverting to other less important matters, since teachers cannot be paid by schools that are still closed.
Led by Hasadu Kirabira, the Kampala representative on the Kampala National Private Educational Institutions Association (NPEIA), school owners said on Tuesday that while they have presented their demands to the ministry of Education, they have not received any response, apart from the recent directive that requires them to pay teachers’ salaries, moreover for not doing any work due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Kirabira said that they were shocked to receive a notice from the ministry’s permanent secretary, Alex Kakooza, threatening to revoke their licenses in case they don’t pay the teachers.
“The communication has come in at a wrong time. We expected guidelines on how to reopen. We have managed before to pay teachers without interference from government. We have so many grievances, which we tabled to them and they have not responded,” Kirabira said.
He added that “Companies have laid off their workers. Some are paying half salary. The situation is not normal. You can’t come out to dictate. We are struggling to cope. When you bring restrictions, we don’t understand. The government has our money. We have been paying taxes. This is the time to pay us back.”
Patrick Kaboyo, the secretary of the Federation of Non-State Education Institutions, another organisation that brings together private schools owners, wondered where government wants them to get money to pay the teachers from when the schools were abruptly closed in March before most of the parents had cleared the fees.
Reasons Fort Defying Gov’t Directive
The Private School owners and Teachers Union have since fronted the following reasons for defying the Ministry’s directive to pay teachers’ salaries;
1. If we don’t collect fees how do we pay teachers’ salaries?
2. Government is telling parents not to pay fees or to do online schooling why can’t we move like the rest of the globe
3. Government has got a lot of funding why they don’t use this money to pay the teachers in both private and government schools
4. The semester closed half way so only half fees were collected
5. How can gov’t interfere in employee vs employer relation that is contractual law?
6. Alex Kakooza, the Permanent Secretary Of Ministry of Education is arm twisting Private schools with his own agendas; his directive is illegal.
7. Some of the Teachers are staying in School Quarters and Feeding on Free Food did Kakooza even know that?