KAMPALA- Teachers can finally smile after government yesterday honoured their 2011 pledge to increase their salaries after a year of disappointment.
Finance minister Maria Kiwanuka yesterday allocated Shs1.699.4 trillion to education sector to enhance the quality of education.
Out of this, Shs215b will go to meet the teachers’ pay rise promised in 2011 following an industrial action after government could not meet their demand of 100 per cent salary increment.
It is not clear though how much this will translate into individual teacher’s pay as Ministry of Education officials were unwilling to share the details.
“Call me another day not now,” the Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary, MS Rose Nassali Lukwago, said on phone yesterday. However, Shs619.66b was spent on primary education wage in 2013/14 financial year.
The salary increment was to be done in three consecutive years at 15 per cent, 20 per cent and 15 per cent. However, the government could not meet the 20 per cent salary enhancement last year promising it would be effected when the resource envelope improved.
“I have allocated Shs1,699.4 trillion to the education sector in the next financial year to enhance the quality of education. Priorities to be implemented include the enhancement of teachers’ salaries, with emphasis on primary school teachers. Shs215b has been allocated for this purpose,” Ms Kiwanuka said yesterday.
The teachers through their umbrella body, Uganda National Teachers’ Union (Unatu), welcomed the development but stressed that the government should equally look at the capitation grant to schools, to enable them buy teaching materials.
Ms Margaret Rwabushaija, the Unatu chairperson, said: “We are happy that government has not violated our contract this year. I am not comfortable though with the budget. I wish they could also increase grants to schools and provide accommodation to all teachers.”
During the Financial Year 2013/14, Ms Kiwanuka allocated Shs1,801 trillion, representing 13.3 per cent of the total budget, to the education sector.
This has, however, reduced to Shs1.7 trillion in the 2014/15 Financial Year.
Ms Priscilla Mirembe, regional director Stromme Foundation, warned that the government’s failure to improve the capitation grant from Shs7,000 per head annually will affect the quality of education and subsequently impact negatively on the country’s productivity.
“We have been saying that capitation grant is not enough. Keeping it at Shs7,000 or even reducing it means that the quality of education will not improve. The quality of people who come out, especially from Universal Primary Education programme will be affected,” Ms Mirembe explained in a phone interview.
Another Shs5b has been given to support teachers’ Saccos, in addition to the Shs2.5b already provided in the financial year ending.
Skilling Uganda programme was given Shs68.7b. This will cater for the construction of five workshops at technical schools of Kihanda in Kanungu; Namasale in Amolator; Namisindwa in Manafwa, Bukoli in Bugiri, and St Joseph Kyalubingo in Kamwenge.
The Student Loan Scheme will not only be implemented but also expanded with emphasis on science and vocational training.
In addition to constructing eight Primary Teachers Colleges (PTCs) at Buhungiro, Paidha, Bundibugyo, Bukedea, Kapchorwa, Arua, Ibanda and Canon Lawrence, the government will also provide instructional materials to support the roll out of the new curriculum for 45 PTCs and Special Needs Education.