Uganda joined the rest of the world last Saturday to celebrate the World Teachers’ Day. At the national celebrations held in Kamuli District, the Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, called upon the government to prioritise construction of houses within school premises for teachers to curb late-coming.
This call is long overdue because many teachers reside far away from schools. Sadly, this impedes their abilities to execute their duties because they report for work late due to long distances they have to travel to their duty stations.
Given teachers’ meagre salaries, the construction of staff quarters in schools will save them from the burden of paying rent and transport costs to and from their duty stations.
The meagre salaries teachers receive have compelled some of them to abscond from duty to engage in income generating activities such as riding boda bodas and farming.
Some teachers have also not been paid for several months, while others have had their names irregularly deleted from the government payroll. All these unfavourable working conditions that teachers are subjected to kill their morale. Therefore, they need motivation in order to focus on teaching.
Poor living conditions lead to poor academic performance of students. Poorly paid and unmotivated teachers give learners poor quality education that have far-reaching implications on the socioeconomic development of the country.
President Museveni last year proposed that salary of graduate science teachers be increased from the monthly Shs600,000 to Shs1.9m while diploma holders were to see theirs raised from Shs625,067 to Shs1.7m. Head teachers with science qualifications were also to have their salaries increased from Shs1.7m to Shs2.5m and their deputies from Shs1.5m to Shs1.7m.
But his proposal was rejected by Parliament on the basis that an increment for only science teachers would offend the law against discrimination. Much as we commend the President for seeking to improve science teachers’ pay, the same should apply to arts teachers as well. This is because all teachers contribute to the social and economic growth of the country.
Government should know that Uganda’s quest for middle income status will be difficult to attain unless the plight of teachers is urgently addressed. This is because teachers play an important role in building human resources that are a fundamental factor in national development.