Salary disparities: Are we ready for consequences?

Geoffrey  Tumusiime

What you need to know:

  • It is during her tenure that the ministry has taken great strides  in improving the sector like introducing the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) policy, new curriculum for lower secondary, Teacher Policy and a number of seed schools have been constructed, among others.

John Adam Stacy (Equity theory 1963),  said what motivates people to work is the perception of equitability and inequitability. Adam states that individuals are concerned with both with their own rewards and what others get in their comparison.

That once employees perceive themselves as being in an inequitable scenario, they will attempt to reduce the inequity by distorting inputs and /or outcomes psychologically, by quitting the organisation.

During the reading of the 2022/2023 Budget, on  June 14,  the Finance minister  Matia Kasaija emphasised that Science teachers would get a salary increment in the next financial year . This has resulted into unrest of Arts teachers claiming that they too need salary increments .

Having met and listened to leaders of Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu) on June 18,  President Museveni directed the ministries of Education,  Public Service and Finance to study the matter and report back to him.

While reviewing and studying the matter in question, I implore the concerned officers to do this carefully, so as not to water down the achievements the Ministry of Education and Sports has so far made under the leadership of Ms Janet Museveni. It is during her tenure that the ministry has taken great strides  in improving the sector like introducing the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) policy, new curriculum for lower secondary, Teacher Policy and a number of seed schools have been constructed, among others.

Although Uganda is yet to realise Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 (inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all by the year 2030) and with only eight years left for the realisation of the SDGs, Uganda’s progress reports indicate that the country is to achieve SDG 4 by 2030.

Therefore, this is the wrong time to begin fighting over unequal pay structures. Uganda should be busy consolidating and putting in place what is necessary in order to hit the target.

By comparison, Science teachers will be remunerated more than Arts teachers yet, although English language falls in the arts category, the Uganda National Examinations Board (Uneb) regards it as a key subject which is not the case for Science subjects except Mathematics. In addition, according to National Development Curriculum Centre (NCDC), English language as a key subject, is allocated more lessons on the timetable compared to other science subjects except Mathematics.

What is the rationale of paying the teacher of Biology Shs3m or Shs4m and then pay a teacher of English language Shs900,000 ? It goes without saying that the English teacher will be demotivated.

Furthermore, the job family structure, under which groups of jobs that are similar in the field/ profession of work and have core accountabilities should be remunerated equally. For example teachers belong to one job family, accountants also belong to one family and the same is the case for other professions. The guiding principle here should be that employees who belong to the same job family should be paid equally to avoid unrest among employees. 

The position of the government to promote science is good and a welcome move, however, science teachers can be given allowances for the practical experiments they carry out during practical lessons. This can be about 30-40 percent of their monthly salaries, but not a 300 percent disparity. For instance, the hard-to-reach allowances paid to teachers who are teaching in hard-to-reach places was handled well and this could be the reason why it never aroused much unrest among teachers.

To put the matter to rest, it’s high time, the President appointed a salary review commission to review salaries of government employees across all the sectors.

Mr Geoffrey  Tumusiime is an Educationist and a consultant in matters concerning education and HR.

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