Our Arts teachers deserve better pay

Author: Ms Florence Kabugho. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • I find it an ill-conceived idea for us to draw a thick line between our scientists and the rest in terms of remuneration.

There has been a promise from President Museveni and his advisors to remunerate Science teachers better than Arts teachers, a decision I find both ill-conceived and toxic.

Science is the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.

Arts on the other hand is the expression of application of human creative skill and imagination. Arts have always been an integral part of science. They give scientific ideas shape and imagination. It is, therefore, important that our children learn both fields at school regardless of their future dreams because Art is a powerful tool for telling a scientific story.

Clearly, Arts and Sciences are two sides of the same coin. This is why we have disciplines like political science, social science and others. Where do we place them? Don’t we all know that architecture has Art written all over it? Where do we place it?

For a country like Uganda that produces engineers every year but still imports toothpicks from China and has its best roads built by Chinese companies, I find it an ill-conceived idea for us to draw a thick line between our scientists and the rest in terms of remuneration.

I would rather we up our game in investing in equipment that can make our scientists better. How well are school laboratories equipped? How well are our polytechnics and science colleges equipped?

How much do we invest in research? That should be the focus if our aim is to make better scientists at the end of the day. Besides, what would be the implication of rewarding Science teachers to the morale of Arts teachers?

Like the adage goes, if you want to reach fast, move alone. If you want to reach far, move together. I think we need to reach far, which is why I find the whole idea toxic.

Get me right, I am not downplaying the importance of Science and scientists in Uganda. Science plays a vital role in our lives. The applications of Science are noticed right from the time we start our day till the time we go to sleep. You and I appreciate the fact that Science and applied science-based technologies have transformed modern life.

They have led to dominant improvements in living standards, health, public welfare, and security. But then, even the best scientists need to see events from a variety of perspectives, which aids their critical and analytical thinking. They need good communication skills; they need the ability to analyse and express themselves in the best ways possible, which is why arts are extremely important to them.

Teachers under their umbrella body, the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (Unatu), had a day earlier announced the industrial action, demanding for uniform salary increment, and not just for science teachers.

The strike by Arts teachers started about a month after their science colleagues took the same path to force the government into committing to increase their pay.

Lest we forget, one of Uganda’s and Africa’s most celebrated comedian; Patrick Idring, known by his stage name Salvado, a Telecommunications Engineer by profession boasts of having quit a well-paying job at MTN to do comedy, and he testifies that he is happier.

In Uganda today, it is not uncommon that many employers will prefer employees with a humanities education because they can work independently, critically, are versatile, and they are also masters at writing effectively and logically.

If you ask me who between Science and Arts teachers should be remunerated better, I will without mincing words tell you both.

Ms Florence Kabugho is the Woman Member Of Parliament for Kasese District


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