By Spy Uganda
Kampala: Amidst tight COVID-19 pandemic hardships the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) has halted payments for all its employees in the Catholic Church privately-owned education institutions across the country.
This was revealed through a letter addressed to all diocesan and archdiocesan education officers in which Rev Fr Ronald Okello, the National Executive Secretary for education at Uganda Episcopal Conference advised them that given the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic, the dioceses should suspend payments of all staff in privately owned schools.
“The dioceses should suspend payments of all staff in privately owned schools. The decision will affect teachers and instructors in government-aided institutions who are not on the government payroll “Letter read
Rev Okello added that education institutions should also, notify the National Social Security Fund and Uganda Revenue Authority to avoid penalties of statutory deductions.
He explains that most of the church schools are run on charity and money paid by learners in the form of school fees whose taps have been cut off for more than four months leaving the church with no other alternatives to keep the payroll running.
As of today the catholic church through its dioceses, archdioceses and several specialized departments, owns over 6,000 education institutions employing hundreds of thousands of both staff and support workers and among these, some are grant funded by the government.
Before the declaration, individual dioceses like Masaka had already sent out messages indicating that they could no longer support their staff. Many of them called upon the faithful and school management committees to look out for relief in terms of food and other essential items to support the affected.
However, to keep their payrolls running, private institution under the National Private Education Institutions Association (NPEIA) have been courting the government to pay salaries for teachers in private schools for at least a year as part of the stimulus to the education sector which has been greatly hit by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
This comes few days after Education and Sports permanent secretary, Alex Kakooza call to government to open schools saying that private schools and universities are businesses too. He said if there’s a government bailout plan, private schools will be considered like other private businesses battered by the COVID-19 lockdown.
“I have written to the permanent secretary ministry of Trade who is charged with this matter to include private education providers whenever there’s an opportunity for a bailout of businesses,” Kakooza said.