By proposing, last week, a higher pay raise for science teachers to keep them in their jobs “because they are few and difficult to find,” President Museveni created a bigger problem.
His proposal has already aggravated the on-and-off two yearlong teachers’ pay dispute. It is difficult to fathom how a glaring disparity in pay will possibly keep especially the lesser earning arts teachers motivated on the job.
According to Zadock Tumuhimbise, the national chairperson of the Uganda national teachers’ union (UNATU), teachers angered by the president’s proposal are planning to walk off their jobs on June 23 in protest at what they call selective or discriminative salary enhancement.
They insist there’s no shortage of science teachers in the country and estimate that about 1,000 unemployed science and arts teachers are loitering the streets.
In a classroom, they say, science and arts teachers complement each other and there’s no need to leave one party behind.
The president is also faulted for pushing a higher pay for only science teachers in secondary schools, leaving out those in primary schools.
Note that primary school teachers play a vital role in building a foundation for learners. So, they ask, how does the president expect unhappy primary science teachers to motivate pupils?
A proposed Shs2 million gross salary for science teachers with a degree and only Shs 600,000 for their arts teachers will simply add fuel to the swelling ranks of the discontented in the teaching profession.
The president needs to listen to all stakeholders, more so, the disaffected teachers and MPs like Connie Galiwango, who have loudly voiced their displeasure at the proposal, which can only disunite teachers and goes against the spirit of Article 40 of the constitution, which advocates equal payment for work without discrimination.
If we want to lift education standards, we should resist such unfortunate attempts at divide and rule which can only end up as an expensive exercise in futility.
This country needs all professions; the arts and sciences. A pay raise for science teachers will come to naught if they continue to teach hungry students, with no or very poor laboratories and non-existent classrooms.