Teachers from private schools are demanding to know the fate of Shs22b President Museveni gave them three months ago as relief during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The teachers say they are frustrated because they don’t know where the money went yet it was to bail them out of the crisis after schools were abruptly closed in March to contain the coronavirus spread.
Ms Mary Muigai, the Muyenga High School head teacher, told Daily Monitor in an interview that when the announcement first came through, their Sacco wrote to the Ministry of Education to get the support in August. She said their school Sacco had been in operation since 2011.
But instead they were asked to go to Microfinance Support Centre (MSC) without guidance. While there, they were advised to go and organise teachers from other schools and make a Sacco at parish level.
“They have frustrated us. We didn’t know these teachers they were asking us to go and organise. The schools had been closed for some time and we didn’t know where to start from. We had thought because ours was already operational with savings from teachers, we would get the money,” Ms Muigai said.
“But everyone was tossing us. We are not sure whether even the money is available. We have given up. We know this money was a hoax. And if it was ever there, those government big shots are enjoying it,” she added.
Mr Alex Kakooza, the Education permanent secretary, was a bit cagey in explaining the whereabouts of the money, insisting they were still formulating the modalities to distribute it.
“We are working out modalities with Ministry of Finance. When we are ready, we will call you,” Mr Kakooza said.
Sources close to the ministry yesterday said there was a disagreement between the ministry officials, the teachers in the private schools and various associations, which bring the private school owners together, on who should manage the money after government released it to MSC.
An inter-ministerial committee was then created and chaired by State minister for Education Rosemary Seninde, which agreed with the private school associations two weeks ago that the money be managed by Walimu Sacco as the private sector reorganises itself.
How money was released
Initially, the Ministry of Finance had released Shs20b to MSC under the President’s Emyooga Initiative.
However, Mr Patrick Kaboyo, the Federation of Non-State Education Institutions (FENEI) secretary, said Education minister Janet Museveni ordered in one of the meetings at State House that the money which the President donated to the private teachers be separated from the Emyooga programme.
“The President gave money as a revolving fund to the private teachers through their Saccos but not unions. Surprisingly, some people are interested in the money. Some said we put it in the banks. We said no,” he said.
“The commercial banks are already choking school directors with interest rates. It is the reason it has delayed to be in the teachers’ pockets because of opportunists under government and unions cover. It found the private sector not organised. It will take three years to set up infrastructure and human resource to receive that money. That is why it was anonymously agreed that Walimu Sacco manages the money,” Mr Kaboyo added.
He said a national committee will oversee the management of the money so that all interested private teachers can access it. Walimu Sacco currently manages Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu)’s Shs25b, which they received from government. Unatu is mainly composed of teachers on government payroll.
The National Private Educational Institutions Association chairperson, Mr Hassadu Kirabira, said they were still waiting for guidance from the Solicitor General after their proposal to have a fund manager was accepted by the inter-ministerial committee.
Although the associations have not concluded on how much a group can borrow, they have consensus that schools individually create Saccos, which will in turn form a district Sacco through which the money will be distributed.