The teachers through their umbrella Uganda National Teachers Union are demanding that government allocates 20 per cent of the national budget to education sector if quality public education is to be achieved. They also want more 20, 000 teachers recruited to reduce on the high teacher-pupil ration which goes up to 200 in some districts.
Ms Margaret Rwabushaija, UNATU chairperson yesterday said while the government has achieved on access through the universal education programmes at both primary and secondary levels, a lot is still needed to improve the welfare of a teacher as a centre of quality education.
There are many gaps. We need more teachers and it’s only the teachers’ section where the government can’t find money to increase their salary. We have a gap and if not filled we will have a generation gap where we will improvise teachers without skills,” Ms Rwabushaija said yesterday as they marked World Teachers day. Adding: “The government should stop cutting on the budget because they will put permanent scars that will not go away.”
Busoga Region head teachers Association chairman, Mr Charles Kaziba said unless teachers get together to fight for common problems and share development issues, they will continue to cry and be disregarded. “Teachers have kept schools running despite unpaid salaries, and frustrations and should be recognized with gazetting of this day as a Public Holiday,” Mr Kaziba advocated.
Completion rates poor
Through the Citizens’ Action for quality public education forum, Rev Fr Silvester Arinaitwe, executive secretary said that it is disheartening that besides access, there is little to celebrate about children’s future given the poor completion rate and poor quality for the few who make it through the primary cycle.
“Despite the enormous resources injected in education and the numerous education policy reforms, our children are in school but they are not learning. There are many people graduating without the tools and skills for today’s job market. We want government to allocate a minimum of 20 per cent of national budget to education,” said Fr Arinaitwe in Kampala.
The government’s budget on education has been declining since 2009 despite the Millennium Development Goals which requires countries to allocate at least 20 per cent of the national budget to the sector.
For instance, the government’s national budget contribution to education has been dwindling since 2009/10 budget from 18 per cent, 2010/11 had 16 per cent, 2011/12 had 13.9 per cent and today’s with 14 per cent as compared to their neighbours in Kenya who have been giving the sector 22.1 per cent, 24 per cent and 21.8 per cent respectively.
The teachers warn that the quality of public education has deteriorated because the “teachers and the teaching profession has been mismanaged, under developed, disrespected and ignored.” Ms Jessica Alupo, education minister said they will continue to advocate for the teachers’ welfare until it has improved.