SIsimuka Uganda

Founder/Chief Strategist's Weekly Column

 Why parents should join the teachers’ sit-down strike

As National Action for Awakening Uganda (Sisimuka Uganda) we believe that teachers should be paid more because the future of your children depends on it. When we continue to offer salaries that discourage rather than encourage our best and brightest from entering and remaining in the profession, the very future of our country is put in jeopardy.

The average salary of a primary school teacher currently stands at UGX 270,000 per month and UGX 3,240,000 a year! It would take almost 7 years for the same teacher to make what a member of parliament who earns a whopping 22m a month!

The same MP who works in a parliament where absenteeism is the order of the day and works from 8 - 5pm for five days, is entitled to medical benefits extending to his entire immediate family, earns UGX 150,000 per hour if he is a member of a parliamentary committee is allowed to go away with this huge sum while a teacher whose workload is almost double that of an MP earns that little.

While we are not saying teachers should be paid to that tune, we believe that the salary of teachers can and should be increased by at least 100% or even 200%. This would put them in line with most public servants working in government ministries, municipalities, town councils, et al. The money is available, the president has been claiming and on some occasions he has attended recently, we have seen sacks of it being brandished to various groups.

Secondly, the way we pay teachers sends a bad message to high-achieving young adults about the viability of teaching as a profession. Students in secondary schools and universities need to perceive teaching as an ambitious career, just like medicine or law. If we want our country's best and brightest college graduates to see teaching as a desirable career, it's essential to offer pay incentives high enough to attract the talent we seek.

The government’s attempt of threatening to sack teachers is not only ill-advised but doesn’t help their pursuit of Vision 2040 neither does it attempt to solve the riddle of youth employment; another serious challenge facing the country. 99% of civil servants, political leaders passed through the public school system that was so efficient and effective under former leaders like Milton Obote, Idi Amin, et al.

We are fully behind the teachers, their umbrella organization UNATU and we strongly urge the parents to join their cause as well.