What you need to know:
- While teachers in government schools had their payment schedules uninterrupted, those in private schools haven’t been receiving salaries.
- In Mpigi, most schools have managed to retain their teachers except a few such as Mpigi Parents School, where two out of the 21 teachers quit the profession.
With the commencement of a new academic year, some learners’ joy of resuming studies following the two-year lockdown could be short-lived after their teachers quit the teaching profession to carry on with their newly found jobs.
Government opened learning institutions on Monday after almost two years of Covid-19-induced lockdown.
In a mini-survey conducted by Daily Monitor around Kampala and in the countryside, teachers, particularly from private schools, have already turned down requests from their employers to return to classrooms.
At Budo Hill Nursery and Primary School in Kyambazi Village, Nsangi Sub-county, Wakiso District, five out of nine teachers quit what they now perceive as a low-paying profession.
“We contacted them before the reopening of the schools but they said they were no longer interested in teaching because they could be rendered jobless when Covid-19 cases soar again. Some of them are involved in brickmaking and are earning better,” Mr Alex Basalirwa, the school head teacher, said.
But the government has said it will not close the economy, and that Ugandans should learn to live with the pandemic.
Uganda has about 550,000 teachers.
Some schools have put up adverts calling for interested teachers to apply for the various slots, but haven’t attracted any candidates.
While teachers in government schools had their payment schedules uninterrupted, those in private schools haven’t been receiving salaries.
Mr Eddie Kayinda, the director of Children’s Foundation Uganda, in Kyazanga District, said out of 20 teachers, only eight have reported for duty, leaving them with no option but to embark on a recruitment process.
“We have learnt that some have left and opted for businesses where they are earning more. Others have embraced agriculture,” he said.
Also, two teachers of Bilal Nursery and Primary School on Bombo Road in Kampala will not return to school because they have settled for higher paying jobs.
“Our Primary One and Primary Four teachers have not shown up. We have contacted them but they told us they got jobs elsewhere. The Primary Four teacher is now working as a journalist in one of the media houses,” Ms Farisah Nankwalu, the head teacher, said.
Ms Nankwalu said the school has commenced a process of recruiting teachers to fill the gap created.
“We have advertised both positions but we have not yet got any interested candidates,” she said.
The shortage of teachers, a chronic problem in the country, has left the few remaining teachers overstretched to handle the workload and this could lead to exhaustion, educationists have warned.
Ms Angela Kasobya, the head teacher of Naalya SSS Namugongo, Wakiso District, said at the time of closure of schools, they had 98 teachers but by yesterday, 90 had reported, with the eight opting to venture into other trades.
She said if need arises, they will recruit more teachers to fill the gap.
Mr Moses Musonge, the head teacher of Ebenezer Day and Boarding Nursery and Primary School in Kampala, said four of his teachers have left the school for other jobs.
Mr Robert Lwanga, the vice chairperson of private schools in Wakiso District, said the shortage of teachers affected mostly primary schools.
At Grace Fellowship Primary School in Makerere, two out of the 12 teachers did not report back.
“We were told one of our teachers left for Saudi Arabia,” said the school bursar, Ms Juliet Nakamette.
Mr Benjamin Tumusiime, the director of studies at Tower Primary School in Mbale City, said although some teachers left, they have replaced them with new ones.
“Only four teachers did not report back but we have replaced them, and we now have a total of 58 teachers,” he added.
In Mpigi, most schools have managed to retain their teachers except a few such as Mpigi Parents School, where two out of the 21 teachers quit the profession.
Three other schools, including Tarsis Mugwanya Primary School, Innocent Nursery and Primary School, and Sheemah Primary School, have completely closed, according to Mr Deogratius Katongole, the district education officer. He said some teachers, especially in private schools, have simply switched stations.
Ms Esther Nafunvu, a former teacher at Mpigi Parents School, said before the lockdown, she had started her side business of selling shoes in Mpigi Town Council, which she cannot abandon now.
“At first I had few customers, but since I have given the business time and invested more money in the past two years, it has grown and I cannot leave it to teach,” she said.
Mr Henry Musisi, who was also teaching at the same school, holds the same view, insisting that his chapatti baking business is more profitable than teaching.
Ms Annet Namale, the head teacher of Kabasanda Primary School in Miteete Sub-county, Sembabule District, said despite her institution being government owned, they have only four teachers.
“We ask the government to post more staff here because some teachers are not conversant with all the subjects [but] they are forced to teach them since we are few,” Ms Namale added.
However, some private schools that took care of their teachers during the trying moments of Covid-19 were able to attract them back.
Mr Godfrey Kimbugwe, the head teacher of Hormisdallen Nursery and Primary School in Kamwokya, Kampala, said all the 55 teachers had reported back to school.
“All our teachers are back. Unlike some schools, we managed to take care of all our teachers when schools closed during the first and second lockdown. We were not paid a salary but were giving them some money that could sustain them,” Mr Kimbugwe said.
At Acomai Primary School, a government-aided school in Bukedea District, out of the eight teachers, only four have reported back, while the rest are seemingly absent without explanation.
The Bukedea District Education Officer, Mr Stephen Okurut, attributed the shortage to lack of teacher accommodation and other facilities.
“The school barely has facilities but has eight teachers on government payroll. We are yet to establish an entire picture of the situation across the district,” Mr Okurut said.
The head teacher of St Mary’s SS Kaptanya in Kapchorwa District, Mr Babu Hamza, said his school closed after teachers, who had been expecting to join the government for 14 years, did not turn to work on Monday.
More than 200 students reported but not a single teacher appeared.
At Crown High Kamwenge in Kamwenge District, out of the 13 teachers at the school pre-lockdown, 10 have reported back, while the rest have preferred to carry on with their private business.
At Bukiro Seed Secondary School in Mbarara District, the Ministry of Education had to post five teachers and an acting head teacher to resume teaching at the new school.
Other findings by this paper in Mbarara indicate that out of the 15 teachers at Three Star Junior School, only 12 have so far reported back.
At Dreamland High School in Mbarara City, out of the 21 teachers, only 18 have reported back. At least 13 teachers have reported back at Mbarara Central College out of the 17.
At Rwampara Progressive School, out of 20 teachers, only 16 have reported back.
In Kalangala District, at least 95 percent of the teachers have reported back. However, the learners turnedout is still low, according to Mr Ronald Mutebi, the district inspector of schools.
The district has a total of 126 teachers for all the 24 primary schools in Kalangala, 52 teachers in the three secondary schools of Bukasa SS, Sserwanga Lwanga Memorial SS and Bishop Danstun SS.
Government has asked all teachers to go for vaccination before they can access classes.
In West Nile, a number of teachers in private schools were reported absent.
Mr Rasul Lugira, the Yumbe District education officer, said a meeting was held before the schools were reopened, but a number of teachers have not reported back to the schools.
At Bamure Nursery and Primary School in Ludara Sub-county, Koboko District, out of the nine teachers the school had before the lockdown, only four had reported back on Monday.
Mr Milton Adole, the head teacher, said some teachers have taken up other jobs.
In Yumbe District, Mr Mohamed Angoliga, the head teacher of Barakala Primary School, said the shortage of teachers is hampering the teaching and learning process.
He said the school is short of five teachers out of the 16 who were at the facility before the lockdown.
The poor turnout of teachers has prompted the leaders to create a team to jointly monitor schools in Adjumani District.
The Adjumani senior education officer, Mr Philip Akuku Kayakaya, said in the last two days, the turnout in primary schools is fair compared to secondary schools.
Mr Kayakaya said the district has convened joint monitoring team to, among others, monitor the compliance to standard operating procedures (SOPs), identify critical gaps in the schools, and find out the number of teachers vaccinated.
“Doing this joint monitoring will help us identify the gaps and establish how many teachers are missing,” he explained.
Compiled, Simon Peter Emwamu, Jane Nafula, Shabiba Nakirigya, Felix Ainebyoona, Rajab Mukombozi, Frederick Anyine, Robert Elema, Scovin Iceta, Rashul Adidi, Alex Ashaba, Joel Kaguta, Longino Muhindo, Ismail Bategeka, Andrew Mugati, Bill Oketch, Santo Ojok, Felix Ainebyoona, Marko Taibot, Tobbias Jolly Owiny, Olivier Mukaaya, Joseph Omollo, Fred Wambede, Al- Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Gertrude Mutyaba, Brian A Kesiime, Karim Muyobo & Dan Wandera.