The president of the Uganda National Students Association (UNSA), Mr Yusuf Welonga, has urged government to address the salary concerns of arts teachers to enable them return to class and recover the lost time during closure over Covid-19.
Mr Welonga told this publication yesterday that if the current situation calls for a supplementary budget, Parliament should approve it as soon as possible so that teachers can return to class.
“Teachers do not need more talks because the talks have been going on for quite some time. The issue shouldn’t be politicised. If MPs were given Shs40 million each and we have seen supplementary budgets passed for other issues, why not do the same for the teachers for the sake of our children?” he said.
Mr Welonga is also worried that if students continue staying home, some of them may lose interest in studies like it was the case during the Covid-19 induced lockdown and fall prey to criminals who may sexually abuse them and exacerbate cases of teenage pregnancy.
The deputy head teacher of Busia Secondary School, Ms Joselin Wandera, said the phased manner of enhancing salaries for people doing the same work may affect morale.
“When you are a parent and you choose to buy clothes for one child and you leave out the rest, they will not feel loved or appreciated. At the end of the day, they all children,” Ms Wandera said.
This comes after President Museveni met the teachers on Saturday and urged them to return to class, saying government would resolve their issue later after dealing with the scientists.
But the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) general secretary, Mr Filbert Baguma, yesterday insisted that teachers will not resume teaching unless their discussions with the line ministries yield positive results.
“If the President told the ministries to handle our issue and between Saturday and now, they have not communicated to us. So what do they expect the teachers to go back with?” he wondered.
The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate, said they were in the process of implementing the presidential directive to engage Unatu leadership and that the outcomes would be communicated at the right time.
Meanwhile in response to the teachers strike, the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party has advised the government to set up a salary review commission to harmonise all the salaries in the country.
The FDC deputy secretary general, Mr Harold Kaija, told journalists yesterday that the board would look at the importance of each profession and determine the salaries of the civil servants.
“… that would reduce the pressure of Mr Museveni to be the only person who decides the fate of everybody,” Mr Kaija said.