Primary school teachers will today wake up to the happy news that the promised 25 per cent raise in pay takes effect this month.
Minister of Education Jessica Alupo broke the good tidings yesterday in Parliament while appearing before the Parliamentary Education committee. The committee is running through the education sector budget.
The lowest paid primary school teacher will now receive a net pay of Shs279,145 up from the old salary of Shs227,240, representing an increment of about Shs50,000, Ms Alupo explained.
“The increment for teachers’ salaries was provided as promised. The ministry of Finance and Economic Planning factored the increment into the MTEF (Mid-Term Expenditure Framework) where the wage component for primary increased by Shs202 billion from Shs619.68 billion in 2013/2014 to Shs822.07 billion in 2014/2015,” said the minister.
An increase in teachers’ pay was indicated in Finance minister Maria Kiwanuka’s Shs215 billion allocation for the purpose during the reading of the 2014/15 Budget in June.
The raise is part fulfilment of a 2011 pledge the government made to increase teachers’ salaries after a year of frustrations and lobbying. The wage component for secondary school teachers was also increased by Shs11.8 billion from last financial year’s Shs190.74 billion to Shs202.6 billion in 2014/2015.
Overall, the government set aside more than Shs1.6 trillion to the education sector this financial year to enhance the quality of education, with an emphasis on addressing conditions of service. Teachers, through their umbrella body, Uganda National Teachers’ Union, welcomed the development but stressed that government should also look at the capitation grant issue to schools, to enable them buy teaching materials.
Committee members yesterday urged government to hurry up the establishment of the proposed Salaries Commission to harmonise public servants’ remuneration.
Separately, yesterday the issue of Shs5 billion which was allocated to support teachers’ savings societies came up.
Teachers have protested a decision by the Education ministry to channel the money through the Micro-finance Support Centre. MPs’ yesterday asked the officials to return to Parliament with an explanation as to why the ministry chose to disburse the money a middleman institution.
Also, education permanent secretary, Ms Rose Nassali Lukwago, admitted the ministry had diverted Shs5 billion meant for the university students’ loan scheme.
Her response was a follow-through to questions raised about the whereabouts of this money which was allocated in last year’s budget. Ms Nassali said they used part of it to buy a school after they sought advice from the solicitor general since the law to operationalise the students’ loan scheme had not been passed. But unhappy MPs asked her to come back to the committee with a better explanation.
Teachers’ strike over low pay
Teachers last year went on strike, after the government failed to meet their demand for a 100 per cent salary increment. In negotiations prior to the industrial action, government had agreed to stagger the increment over three consecutive years at 15 per cent, 20 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively. However, the government never met the 20 per cent enhancement last year, promising it would be effected when the national resource envelope improved.