Striking teachers return to class amid low morale

Pupils of  Main Street Primary School attend class in Jinja City. Government is proposing that teachers in the private schools earn a uniform salary like their counterparts on the government payroll. PHOTO / DENIS EDEMA

What you need to know:

  • A mini countrywide survey by Monitor indicated that majority of the teachers, who were on strike for close to a month, resumed work.

Government teachers, who laid down their tools last month over alleged discriminatory salary increment yesterday turned up in big numbers, despite exhibiting low morale for teaching.

Government Arts secondary teachers and primary school teachers downed their tools on June 15, protesting government’s proposed salary increment, which favours secondary school Science teachers and other scientists.  

After meeting President Museveni on Monday, the leaders of Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) called off the strike and asked their members to return to class by today.

A mini-survey conducted by this publication countrywide indicated that majority of the teachers, who were on strike for close to a month, resumed work.

In Kampala, for example, all teachers at schools, including Railway Children Primary School, Nakivubo Settlement Primary School, Old Kampala Primary School and Nakivubo Blue Primary School, turned up for teaching.

“All our teachers are back. Very ready to teach but for some, their morale is still low. I have talked to them that we are accountable for the learners’ performance and they have promised to do their best to cover up for the lost time,” Ms Sarah Nakkazi, the head teacher of Old Kampala Secondary School, said.

Mr David Muyanja, the deputy head teacher of Police Children School in Kibuli, Kampala, however, said only 30 percent of his teachers had turned up, but was optimistic the rest would show up today.

Mr Michael Kalule, a teacher at Old Kampala Primary School welcomed the decision by the Unatu leaders to call off the strike, saying many children, including his own daughter, had missed out on lessons.

“Although our motivation levels are still low, we are glad to see that our children have come back to study. However, I request government to honour its pledge of enhancing our salaries because the cost of living is high,” he said.

The director of studies at Railway Children Primary School, Nsambya, Kampala, said the government should cater for the teachers and enhance their salaries as soon as possible to bail them out of the hard economic times.

Ms Percy Mureba Kamugisha, the head teacher of Nyabikoni Primary School in Kabale Town, said all his 17 teachers reported back to school yesterday morning. This particular school had reportedly closed due to the strike.

Mr Geoffrey Mbanago, the head teacher of Nababirye Primary School, Bulopa Sub-county in Kamuli District, said his teachers had confirmed that they would resume work today.

Mr Ssonko Kizito, the head teacher of Butayunjwa Primary School, Buyanja Sub-county in Buyende District, said his teachers did not returned to school, but they have confirmed that they will resume teaching.

At MM College Wairaka in Jinja District, the head teacher, Ms Hilda Namutosi, said some of her teachers have been teaching.

Mr Farouk Musuuba, the head teacher of Njeru Primary School, Njeru Municipality in Buikwe District, said the industrial action affected pupils’ studies.

Ms Vincentia Musubika, the head teacher of Kyomya Primary School with a section for special needs pupils in Jinja North City, said when in the teachers’ training college, they  were taught to take all the four subjects, whether Sciences or Arts.

Mr Joseph Sibukule, the deputy head teacher of Bugembe Blue Primary School, said more than half of the teachers turned up at the school ahead of the official start of class work today.

However, the situation was different in Soroti where some schools remained without teachers and pupils.

For instance, at Pioneer Primary School, Soroti City, there was no sign of pupils and teachers at school premises by 8am on Tuesday. 

At Awoja Primary School in in Soroti District, the school remained closed but pupils in the neighbouring villages could be seen doing garden work.
In Tororo, active learning is expected today, according to Mr Keroni Okumu, the area Unatu chairperson.

Situation in Mbarara

At Nyamityobora Primary School in Mbarara City, all teachers were in classes teaching.

Ms Deborah Kabanyerere, the deputy head teacher of Pentecostal Primary School in Mbarara, said: ‘‘We are so disappointed because we thought our issues would be addressed [by the President]. Teachers have returned to class but they have low morale.”

In other schools where teachers never turned up for lessons, the administrators were optimistic that they would return today.

Ms Monica Ashaba, the deputy head teacher of Mbarara Secondary School, said all teachers who were on industrial action resumed teaching yesterday.

At Kariro Muslim Primary School, also in Mbarara District, only four out of nine teachers teaching at this government school reported back. 

Compiled by Bill Oketch,  Robert Muhereza, Simon Peter Emwamu, Julius Byamukama, Jane Nafula,  Fred Anyine, Sheillar Mutetsi, Philip Wafula, Abubaker Kirunda, Denis Edema, Joseph Omollo, Tausi Nakato & Felix Ainebyoona

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