Govt should pay teachers on time

Primary Seven pupils of Nyabikoni Primary School in Kabale Town welcome their teacher back to class after the strike in July. PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

The issue: Teachers’ salaries

Our view: Government needs to introduce policies that would enable a certain number of children of teachers to access education through certain levels at either subsidised rates or no fee

Thousands of primary and secondary school teachers have gone two months without pay. In the past, when career teachers were career teachers in the true sense of the word, two months without pay would be a blip and nothing to worry about. But those times are long gone.

 Today, most teachers are professional employees who must earn for every chalk dust emitted. Thus, going just a month with no pay takes education back many steps.

Firstly, as they say, a hungry teacher can be an angry teacher and this does not auger well for the learners. But that is if they make it to the class in the first place. When demoralised, most teachers are unlikely to give even half of their value in the class.

The situation is worsened by the current inflation that has seen the cost of living skyrocketing. The Education ministry has decried the new system of payment that was set up in the wake of changes in the pay structure for Science teachers for the failure to pay some teachers their salaries. But there is a lot to meet the eye as seen in the mistakes that saw some teachers get paid in excess in July.

If these are merely errors as a result of the system, then the persons responsible for ensuring it works should not need a reminder that human beings must do their part without the need for a whip to drive them to fruition like oxen.

 The government’s explanation has not been convincing, leaving many suspecting resource shortage as a result of paying huge salaries to Science teachers in what has been looking like a policy that was not planned well enough.  The Finance ministry must therefore put its house to order and expedite payment of the arrears owed to the teachers.

Coming into September when the final term of the academic calendar kicks off, the timing couldn’t have been more stressful.  The deep irony in a teacher being required to report to duty and teach when their children are stuck at home due to lack of fees is distressing.

 There should be some kind of incentives that facilitate education for the biological children of teachers.

Government needs to introduce policies that would enable a certain number of children of teachers to access education through certain levels at either subsidised rates or no fee.

This will motivate the Education sector, and the attendant effect will flow to guarantee quality in the long run.

However, such incentives cannot be a substitute for no payment or delayed payment of salaries for teachers. What the government would be doing here is simply extending a deserving incentive in the same vein it would facilitate children of soldiers.

The current situation affecting teachers is one the teachers union, Unatu, should use to negotiate for such incentives for its members.

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