What you need to know:
The issue: Teachers’ strike.
Our view: We call for a dialogue between the teachers and government. The two parties were yesterday expected to meet, but we can only hope that the interests of the learners are put before any other.
Learners from both primary and secondary schools were on Wednesday left stranded as arts teachers across the country went on strike.
Whereas some parents had asked their children to stay at home, other learners were turned away at entrances or left unattended to as they passed time at school.
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.
Unatu leadership ratified the resolution of the standing committee that sat on May 23 to enter into an industrial action effective June 15 if there was no satisfactory feedback on salary increment across the board for the Financial Year starting next month.
The strike by arts teachers comes about a month after their science colleagues took the same path to force government into committing to increase their pay.
But the strikes by teachers is not isolated. The past six months have seen a wave of strikes by sections of civil servants who were asking government to make good on its promise to increase their salary.
Just last month, the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union, Uganda Medical Association and allied health professionals all announced strikes, prompting government to reassure them that they will be catered for in the next financial year.
But the education sector has particularly suffered because of the strikes. The current disruptions in the school calendar come hardly six months after schools were reopened following the closure of the sector by the President for nearly two years to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The strikes come at a time that government is implementing the revised curricula. Ministry of Education has just started putting into operation the lower secondary curriculum that requires intensive implementation.
Not to mention how it is affecting the pace of learners who have only returned to the classroom after two years of sitting at home.
We, therefore, call for a dialogue between the teachers and government. The two parties were yesterday expected to meet, but we can only hope that the interests of the learners are put before any other.
Addressing a press conference this week, Public Service minister Wilson Muruli Mukasa said they are aware of the previous discussions with Unatu and are committed to the plan of enhancing the pay of workers in a phased manner.
But the “when” is what the arts teachers want to hear, not “subject to availability of resources” as government has been promising. They have been told the same statement for far too long.
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