Talks on teachers pay rise ill-timed

Thursday October 14 2021

President Museveni with the First Lady, who is also the Education minister, Ms Janet Museveni, during the commemoration of the Teachers’ Day at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala on October 12, 2021. PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA


Govt should find better ways to address teachers concerns. There will be no pay rise for teachers of humanities, according to the President (Daily Monitor, Wednesday, October 13, 2021). 

The government will prioritise higher remuneration for science teachers because they are the lot who contribute directly to societal advancement and improved livelihoods.

The government’s position is not new and will hardly surprise any stakeholders in the education sector. What could be unsettling to many teachers, however, is the timing and manner in which the President let his stance known. 

A 2018 Collective Bargaining Agreement under which the government pledged uniform salary increase for all teachers was simply trampled upon with Bush War rhetoric and unnecessary strong reminder of who wields the fly whisky in the country.

At such a time as this when schools have been closed for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the pronouncement came out rather too strong for the teachers, the majority of whom have been badly hit by the closure.

As long as the government does not scrap arts subjects from the curricula, humanities will remain of value in the country’s social economic transformation. 


The day the government decides that it can do away with all humanities in our education system and compel everyone to study sciences would be the day it would have made its stand clear on the long standing sciences vs humanities debate.

It is pleasant and reassuring when the decision makers explain that they really wish to give pay raise to all teachers but that challenges tie them back to drawing priorities, like the President and the Education minister and First Lady said. 

But it all goes out of the window when intellectual discussion by the teachers is treated like an attack by jet fighters nukes, tankers and RPGs on the government forces.

Teachers advocating for pay rise must not be treated like rebels launching attacks on the ruling party’s ideologies.

It is possible -- and in fact the best approach -- for the government to appraise science and offer the discipline whatever priority it seeks to without denigrating humanities. 
Putting emphasis on which discipline is helping transform the economy is merely being political on the teachers demands.

A promise, they say, is a debt. If government made promises, using threats to avoid the debt repayment would never settle it. When teachers remind the government of this debt, it is not to put anyone on tension. They do so to seek consideration, a reminder that their grievance should be put on the budget scale and allowed to be weighted too.

Let’s exhaust all channels of negotiations when dealing with intellectual debate. Industrial action and threats of showing who wields the power need not be on the table at this point.