Janet to striking teachers: You betrayed govt

Education minister Janet Museveni addresses journalists at State House Nakasero on May 4, 2022. PHOTO | FRANK BAGUMA

The Minister of Education and Sports, Ms Janet Kataaha Museveni, has directed all striking Arts teachers to return to class with immediate effect since the government has committed to enhance their salaries gradually.

Ms Museveni, who was speaking at the launch of the Parish Development Model (PDM) in Ntungamo District, said teachers betrayed God, government and Ugandans through their industrial action because they were called to serve.

“Leaders, go and tell teachers that they betrayed our government because during lockdown, we kept paying them yet they were not working. Therefore, and to my dismay, instead of compensating for the lost time and the money they were paid, they have resorted to striking. What kind of people are they?” Ms Museveni wondered.

She pondered why many qualified teachers are languishing on the streets yet those in service are declining to report to class.

“If they are to help themselves, they should return to class with immediate effect because recently, when the Education Service Commission was conducting interviews, about 30,000 teachers applied and only 3,000 were shortlisted, meaning that there are many teachers on the streets and it is possible others can be recruited when they remain defiant,” she said.

Minister Museveni assured the striking teachers that the government is committed to enhance salaries of all civil servants in the subsequent years.

“The government has been increasing teachers’ salaries since 2016 annually and teachers in private schools are paid meagre salaries; but they have never engaged in strikes and Arts teachers striking should borrow a leaf from teachers in private schools”

Ms Museveni’s directive follows Local Government Minister Raphael Magyezi’s remarks on Monday that the government had reached a conclusion to sack striking teachers by the end of Tuesday.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Mr Ben Kumumanya, on Monday directed Chief Administrative Officers, Town Clerks, sub-county chiefs, parish chiefs and town agents, district inspectors of school and district education officers to compile lists of absent teachers by close of business on Tuesday and submit reports to the Ministry of Public Service and Local Government for appropriate action.

But the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (Unatu) general secretary, Mr Filbert Baguma, said arts teachers will continue with the strike unless their issues are addressed. 

Mr Baguma added that those who believe their strike is illegal should file a case in court. Arts teachers went on strike on June 15.

Commenting on the PDM, Ms Museveni asked Ntungamo residents to embrace the programme, which she said will empower them economically.

She said the only way the country can stop foreign aid dependence is by increasing agricultural productivity among Ugandans through embracing the various enterprises under the PDM.

“You the people of Ntungamo District, I want you to listen attentively. If you really believe in me, and I know you do, embrace the PDM,” she asserted.

“You recently gave me another term in office as district NRM chairperson in my absentia, so I am telling you that when the PDM fails in the district, I will stop appearing at your functions, have you heard?” she warned.

She urged the residents to make Ntungamo the model district in the implementation of the PDM across the country.

She said to elevate the 39 percent of Ugandans in the subsistence sector to the money economy, they need to embrace all pillars of PDM.

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