Teachers fight for recognition as scientists get pay rise

A health worker vaccinates one of the teachers against Covid-19 at Kitante Primary School in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO / ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • A recent revelation by the teachers of science subjects in secondary schools that their pay was momentarily increased and then cut, has raised questions on who government considers a scientist. 

President Museveni has on numerous occasions pledged to increase the pay of scientists, whom he believes are more practical to the development needs of the country.

While he has met with different civil servants, including teachers and medics, he has never explicitly mentioned the disciplines that should be covered by the proposed salary enhancements. 

A recent revelation by the teachers of science subjects in secondary schools that their pay was momentarily increased and then cut, has raised questions on who government considers a scientist in its policies to increase salaries.

A June 2018 notice from Ministry of Public Service Permanent Secretary Catherine Bitarakwate listed disciplines of public officers that are categorised as scientists who would benefit from the 2010 circular that introduced a salary band for scientists.

“Despite the guidance, it has been observed that some votes are paying salaries of scientists to public officers who have not been categorised as such,” the letter reads

The disciplines include medicine, engineering, survey and architecture, natural resources management, computer science, statisticians, production, research, transport and communication.

Whereas all teachers have been advocating for better remuneration, teachers of science subjects were beneficiaries of a salary increment for scientists but only for two months.

Mr Vincent Elong, the national chairperson of the Uganda Professional Science Teachers Union (UPSTU), said this is the letter that lead to science teachers being scrapped off the list of beneficiaries for the salary enhancement.

“Salaries for teachers were approved in Financial Year 2018/2019; that they enhance salaries for the science teachers to motivate them for the work they do…they paid for two months and later withdrew it, money paid was Shs2.2 million gross salary but later they withdrew it and recovered it…The withdrawal was done by the public service through an establishment notice to all accounting officers,” he said.

Mr Elong added that they then petitioned the Finance, Education, Public Service ministries, and the Equal Opportunities Commission for what he termed as “marginalisation of science teachers from the rest of scientists.”

“We proved that we are scientists because we are the ones who train these scientists. They agreed that there was a mistake and they are working to correct it,” he said.

On August 24, ICT minister Chris Baryomunsi announced that Cabinet had approved a salary increment for scientists, stating that science teachers would be included to earn a gross monthly salary of Shs4 million.

Mr Elong attributed the delayed implementation of the salary increment to “sabotage” by the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) who claim teachers of humanities cannot be left behind.

“The Union that was representing us said they cannot increase salary for this group above their supervisors and that the other colleagues are doing their work in the same environment and they also need salary increment,” he says.

Mr Filbert Baguma, the Unatu secretary general, last evening said they will not allow a policy that creates confusion in the education sector.

“We want to see the government schedule. What about these others they are telling to wait, what are they waiting for and when will it materialise? If government has a programme of increasing salaries, it should make it public,” he said. 

He added: “We are not saying they should not increase the salaries. We want a plan, if not, we shall not tolerate that confusion. If humanities are not important, let them abolish them.”