Govt yields to pressure, accepts PTC tutors as scientists

Ms Ketty Lamaro, PS in the Ministry of Education and Sports. Photo | File

What you need to know:

  • The latest position follows a directive by the Ministry of Public Service officials, tasking Ms Lamaro to clarify several issues, in response to a petition by science tutors who alleged that they were not being paid according to the new salary scale for scientists

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Sports, Ms Ketty Lamaro, has clarified that there are scientists in Primary Teachers Colleges (PTCs), amid threats by a section of science tutors to lay down tools.

The latest position follows a directive by the Ministry of Public Service officials, tasking Ms Lamaro to clarify several issues, in response to a petition by science tutors who alleged that they were not being paid according to the new salary scale for scientists.

In a November 24 letter addressed to Ms Lamaro,  Mr Godfrey Kaima, on behalf of the Public Service Permanent Secretary, Ms Catherine Bitarakwate, tasked Ms Lamaro to state her ministry’s position before several issues can be looked into.

“In reference to the above petition, a meeting was held at the Ministry of Public Service on November 23, 2023, which was attended by your ministry, the leadership of Uganda Professional Science Teachers’ Union, and representatives of tutors in PTCs. The meeting agreed to formally present issues to you for clarification on the following matters, whether there are scientists in PTCs, whether secondary school teachers are eligible for employment, and the circumstances under which a person with no specific training or qualifications and specialisation in ICT would be appointed and deployed as an ICT teacher in a secondary school,” the letter read in parts.

In response, Ms Lamaro confirmed that science tutors at PTCs should be treated as scientists.

“It is true, there are scientists in PTCs. The science subjects taught in PTCs are highlighted in the Establishment Notice NO2 of 2015 namely, Mathematics, Home Economics, Integrated Science (Physics Chemistry, and Biology,”Ms Lamaro said in a February 23 letter addressed to Ms Bitarakwate.

Adding: “Home Economics has got cookery, tailoring, and knitting among others, and is already categorised as a science as per Establishment Notice No2 of 2015. Makerere University in a letter Ref No ADM/48/237/01 dated October 6, 2020, ably explained why Physical Education should be considered a Science, and the Ministry is not deviating from that opinion.”

In 2022, President Museveni ordered a pay enhancement for all scientists, including science teachers, but a section of tutors in PTCs alleged that they were not earning as scientists.

Mr Aron Mugaiga, the secretary general of the Uganda Professional Science Teachers Union (UPSTU), told this publication yesterday that science tutors’ salary was increased from Shs1.2m to Shs4m for degree holders and from Shs900,000 to Shs2.2m for Diploma holders, but some of them were only able to earn that amount between July 2022 and August 2023 after which they were taken back to the old scale.

Late last month, the representatives of more than 400 science tutors who are affected camped at the UPSTU offices in Kampala and resolved to lay down their tools with effect t from April 4, if they are not reinstated on the approved science salary scale.

Mr Godfrey Tabu, a science tutor from Bulera Core PTC in Hoima City, said he has in the last six months received less money.

“I am a Diploma holder, my gross salary is Shs2m and when it is taxed, it comes to about Shs1.6m. For the last six months, I have been getting between Shs800,000 and Shs850,000. The money has been chopped and it is never stable,’’ Mr Tabu said.

Mr Geoffrey Mabonga, a mathematics tutor at Busuubizi Core PTC in Mityana District, said: “I have spent eight months without earning as a science tutor. Life is hard. My children have been studying from Mityana but I took them back to the village.”

On the issue of whether secondary school teachers are eligible for employment as tutors in PTCs, Ms Lamaro said this was done to bridge the staffing gap.

“When the Ministry established that there was a shortage of tutors with a specialty in integrated science (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology) a deliberate effort was made to recruit secondary school science teachers of physics, chemistry,  Biology, Agriculture, Home Economics, ICT, Mathematics to support the implementation of Grade III teachers’ certificate curriculum,” Ms Lamaro said in the statement.

She explained that the introduction of ICT at the ordinary certificate level and its subsequent introduction at PTC and other levels of education; called for the recruitment of more staff but unfortunately at the time, there was no college offering training of ICT teachers.

“To address the gap, the ministry requested those teachers already on the government payroll with ICT skills to enroll for a short training on how to teach computer science after which they were deployed in schools. These teachers have done a good job and some of them have acquired qualifications in ICT,” she said.