Published at 1318 EAT on Monday 25 April 2022.
Secondary science teachers under their umbrella Uganda Professional Science Teachers’ Union have threatened to lay down their tools at the beginning of the next school term.
In a letter addressed to the ministry of Education and Sports and Public Service, the teachers accused the government of failing to increase the salaries of science teachers and improving their working conditions.
The teachers note that despite continuous promises made by the government in 2017 to date about increasing the salaries of science teachers, no money has been allocated to this cause.
According to the teachers, from the 2018/2019 financial year budget to the most recent 2021/2022 around Shs 239 billion have been allocated to increase the salaries of teachers but this money is always diverted to other purposes.
Government provided Shs 400 billion in the budget to enhance salaries for all scientists including science teachers and medical workers for FY 2022/2023 as per the policy approved by cabinet and directed by H.E the President. In this fund, Shs 111 billion had been earmarked to enhance salaries for science teachers and Shs 27 billion for scientists in tertiary institutions.
We have noted with concern that the ministry of Public Service, has yet again excluded scientists in all post-primary education institutions and has instead diverted the money that was earmarked to enhance the salaries of these scientists to boost salary enhancement for other sectors,” the letter reads in part.
One of the sectors that will be getting salary enhancements is medical doctors following a strike last year that lasted for more than two months.
Vincent Elong, the national chairperson of the Union says it is unfair that the government wants to increase the salaries of doctors yet the teachers are earning peanuts.
According to Elong, the government has promised to increase their salaries gradually until all graduate science teachers earn Shs 4 million and grade V teachers at Shs 3 million.
On whether the strike won’t affect learners who just resumed learning following a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown of education institutions in the country, Elong says the government is to blame.
“We as teachers have been patient. We have listened to the government and waited even as other people were striking during the lockdown but the government has failed to fulfill its promises. At this point, it is not us to stop the strike but our employer government,” he said.
In addition to increasing their salaries, the teachers want the ministry of Education to implement the promotional ladder as stipulated in the Teachers’ Scheme of Service.
According to them, many science teachers who are also school and district administrators have not been promoted for more than 10 years despite being graduates. The teachers also want the government to avail all science teachers with protective gear for use during practical lessons where many are exposed to dangerous chemicals.
They also want the government to create a special salary scale for laboratory science technicians who work in school settings. They argue that laboratory technicians in other science filed share a salary scale yet the ones in schools who are required to have the same qualifications as other laboratory technicians do not.
According to the teachers, the lack of a salary scale exposes the technicians to poor pay.