Ugandan private teachers under their umbrella organization of Uganda Private Teachers Union (UPTU) have raised their outcry again over ‘empty promises’ of COVID-19 recovery funds made by the country’s leader President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
Mwamula Juma-General Secretary of the Union told our reporter that they need this money urgently before schools resume in January 2022 to plan and support their members who were hugely hit by the pandemic.
“We are very grateful to the good gesture of the president of Uganda in offering the 2.5 trillion shillings for private schools recovery and the grant of 20 billion shillings to the teachers of private schools. It is with pain, however, to note that over a year since this president’s goodwill, neither the private schools nor the teachers therein have received the said offer yet.
”For the case of teachers, Uganda Private Teachers Union from the various engagements is deeply aware that this delay is a deliberate choice by some persons within the Ministry of Education and Sports who are using their offices to create confusion perhaps because of their individual desires to have a direct influence on micromanagement of the fund,” Mwamula noted.
Celebrating this year’s International Teachers Day under the theme; “Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery”, Mwamula further demanded that the said funds for teachers be made available for immediate access through teachers’ own formed groups at convenient terms.
Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU)-General Secretary, Filbert Baguma noted that this year’s teachers’ day theme resonates with the current devastation that has ravaged the education sector, arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we celebrate this day, the private schools which constitute over 60% of the entire sector has been and continue to be heavily hit by the pandemic. This is indeed hard to the extent that all these schools have regressed in terms of infrastructural development, human resource base, learners enrollment. Several of the same schools are under complete extinction because of their inability to keep afloat through the times of tough tides. Many schools have been taken over by banks in failed loans and therefore are no more,“ Baguma observed.
On there other hand, Mwamula rejected the move by the Ministry of Education and Sports to call for fresh registration of all private schools.
“This fresh registration just like the earlier registration process in the paper is said to be free, yet government officials use it to extort millions of shillings from schools before their registration the attained! Also, imagining that no single private school can ever be allowed to operate without a registration certificate and yet, this exercise is exclusively done by designated and already overwhelmed offices is to confirm that for some time many schools will not have gotten the registration status and therefore would not be expected to operate at that.
”The same ploy can be used to deliberately phase out some targeted schools that could be potential competitors to those owned by officials in the registering departments,” he explained.
He urged teachers to unite to recover the education sector losses.
“While we celebrate this day today, let us acknowledge that the unfortunate manipulations that have befallen us are partly because of our internal weaknesses arising from our disunity! It is on this basis that I wish to invite you all to embrace unity under our labour union so that we can strengthen our bargaining power and the practice of social dialogue — always recall that unions make us (workers) strong (refer to international solidarity anthem),” he noted.