UNATU’S POSITION ON THE PROPOSED SALARY INCREMENTS FOR FINANCIAL YEAR 2018/19 AND DELIBERATE INTIMIDATION OF THE TEACHERS IN NAKASEKE
In a bid to improve the welfare of teachers and the quality of education, Government has recently made proposals which in their view are for the good of this country but in reality are going to drive Uganda deeper into an education crisis. Two proposals of particular concern are; The proposed salary increments for teachers in FY 2018/19 and the plan to subject teachers to PLE as a way of testing their suitability to teach. UNATU, as the only recognized representative of the teachers strongly objects to these proposals as justified below;
- i) Selective salary increments in the teaching profession:
- a) The proposed increments have deliberately left out the Primary Education sector which is unfair because all teachers across the Education sector deserve an increment and equally work under the same hard conditions.
- b) In the Secondary and other Post-Primary sub-sectors, the proposed increments will create a scenario where Science teachers earn almost four times more than their colleagues in the Arts field. For example, a graduate Secondary school Arts teacher in U4 lower earns UGX 601,341 and a diploma secondary Arts teacher in U5 Upper earns UGX 472,079 respectively before PAYE. Their colleagues with the same qualifications in the same salary scale but teaching Science subjects earn 30% additional science allowance given to Science teachers effective FY 2012/13. In the proposed scale, Government is planning to further increase the salary of a U4 Science teacher to UGX 2,000,000/= without considering the Arts teachers in the same category whose salary has remained static. Where is the fairness in this?? Same qualifications, same workload!! Is Science taught in science language? An F9 in English and Mathematics affects one’s grade regardless of other distinctions. The notion that Sciences are far more important than Arts/Humanities is misguided. Science cannot progress without the Arts/Humanities. We need to understand that Arts go beyond poetry, music to include other fields such as business, politics, and journalism among others.
Sciences through technology merely provide convenience and a better way to work. For example, the Internet has made it easier for the media to work. One can access news-on-the-go on their mobile phones. However, the great team of journalists that collect, write, document, edit and package the news into a format that we understand and enjoy is groomed through the Arts/Humanities field. The same principle applies to software, and Applications (Apps). The Arts help us understand how to use this software to support our businesses, lifestyle and other aspects of life.
Beyond technical co-dependence between the fields of Sciences and Arts, the issue of ‘Values’ also comes into play. Humanities/Arts form the basis of the things that we Value e.g. Peace, Harmony, Human Rights, Respect for mankind and the environment. Imagine grooming a great Scientist without regard/value for mankind or the environment and instead specializes in inventing chemical weapons, harmful viruses, bombs and other explosives that perpetuate war, violence and destroy both humanity and the environment. Arts and Sciences must co-exist.
- c) In the same proposed salary increments, a Head Teacher and Deputy Head Teacher in Secondary school will earn UGX 2,050,000 and UGX 1,767,633 respectively. In the same school, a science teacher in U4 (SC) will earn UGX 2,000,000/=. In this case, who will be supervising who? Furthermore, Head Teachers in both Secondary and Primary schools perform the same roles. Why have those in the Primary Sector been deliberately ignored in the proposed salary increments for FY 2018/19? Further analysis shows that the same teacher will be earning more or in the same range as the District Inspector of Schools and District Education Officers. How feasible is this proposal?
- d) In the budget of FY 2016/17, Government did not extend the last phase of the salary increment (15%) to Post-Primary institutions (Secondary, BTVET, NTCs and PTCs) as agreed between government and UNATU in October 2011. The first two installments were paid across all education sub-sectors. While UNATU still demands this 15% increment for the said teachers above, Government has gone ahead to plan for other segregative salary increments. Is this a form of indirect Government sabotage of the education process by ensuring that all teachers remain demotivated and divided?
- ii) Phasing of salary increments: It should be noted that salary increments paid in a phased manner eventually become negligible due to rising inflation. If Government is genuinely interested in improving the welfare of teachers, the increments should be made wholesomely for the impact to actually be ‘felt’. Government should as a worst-case scenario phase percentages but not categories.
iii) Membership on Salary Harmonization committee and other fora discussing teacher issues: Regrettably, UNATU was left out of the above-mentioned discussions on salary enhancement yet we represent a larger percentage of Civil Servants in Uganda. It is very clear that deliberately leaving us out of the discussions on salary enhancement for teachers has led to the Committee making proposals that are clearly going to create dis-harmony yet the intended purpose of the exercise was salary ‘harmonisation’.
-The implementation of the recommendations from the Salary Harmonization Committee which are selective and not harmonized be halted and due involvement and participation of teachers’ representatives be initiated to reach an agreed position
-The Government constitutes a Salary Harmonization committee that includes UNATU as the teachers’ representative.
Clarification: It should be clearly understood that UNATU is not opposed to the proposed salary increment to the Science and other teachers set to benefit. Infact, the Union welcomes the proposal to set UGX 2,000,000 as the starting salary for all Graduate teachers. What the Union is opposing is the disharmony in the proposed salary structure. Let the anomalies be rectified before implementation.
Notice of Industrial action: In lieu of the above, UNATU and other Public Service Unions through NOTU, the Labour Centre unanimously agreed that the proposal of salaries declared on 20th March 2018 by the Permanent Secretary/ Secretary to the Treasury is not the agreed position of the workers including teachers. Government was therefore given a 90 days’ statutory notification to address the concerns of the workers or else Industrial action begins effective 23rd June 2018.
UNATU therefore informs her entire membership and the general public that as a Union, we are dissatisfied with the proposed selective salary increments and will actively participate in the above mentioned industrial action should Government fail to address our concerns.
THE CASE OF NAKASEKE TEACHERS
I draw your attention to another proposed action that is evidently aimed at frustrating the teaching profession- The case of Nakaseke teachers. The LCV Chairperson of Nakaseke District has erroneously ordered that all teachers in Nakaseke District be subjected to Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) as a way of judging their suitability to teach.
UNATU is strongly opposed to this move as it not only undermines the noble profession of teaching but is also inhuman and meant to demoralize and embarrass the teachers of Nakaseke. Government through its agencies is responsible for recruitment and confirmation of teachers into service. How can the same Government question the quality of the same teachers that it employs? Is this an indication that the process of recruitment and confirmation of teachers is questionable and hence requires further scrutiny or audit? This also goes to show that the political arm of Nakaseke does not have any confidence in the work of the Technical arm of Nakaseke District Local Government that is responsible for hiring, confirming, supervising and monitoring human resource.
The performance of learners is not solely in the hands of the teachers. This misconception must stop. Other factors within the home, community and school also affect the teaching/ learning process. This calls for a holistic approach towards the issue of promoting quality education. What is the teaching and learning environment like in Nakaseke schools? Are children being fed at school or are teachers supporting hungry learners? Are parents supporting their learners or are they the kind who assume that learning ends in the classroom? How much support has the District Council extended to teachers?
This also brings to light the questionable competencies of our Local Councils. Some members on these councils are school dropouts and cannot ably reason out issues of such a critical professional nature. How do you subject matters concerning quality education and teacher competencies to people that have not been exposed or are not familiar with the same system? One can only expect narrow and single-minded debate that does not explore the issue of performance wholesomely. It is high time that the Government re-thinks the qualifications for one to hold such offices.
Government has continued to disregard the need to uplift the status of the teaching profession and instead continues to act in a manner that is meant to deliberately frustrate and demotivate the teachers. The system is fast becoming more punitive instead of supportive. The inhumane move by the LCV Chairperson of Nakaseke is a clear example that the status and morale of teachers does not matter to the Government. Furthermore, is it within the mandate of the LC Chairperson to administer National Examinations? Isn’t this a clear usurping of power from UNEB as per the UNEB ACT 1983? Isn’t it discrediting UNEB and the District Service Commission whose members are nominated by him? What qualification is he going to award after the exams? What correlation is there between passing PLE by teachers and improvement in the learning outcomes?
According to media reports, Nakaseke Local Government Council has already approved funds for the examination exercise. What is the source of these funds? How will the money be used and accounted for? Isn’t this a clear example of misuse of public funds at the cost of other priorities? Why not use this money to improve the teaching and learning environment in Nakaseke?
UNATU demands for not only an end to the plans to subject the Nakaseke teachers to PLE but also a public apology by the LCV Chairperson for dishonoring the noble teaching profession of which he is a product. Failure to do so, UNATU plans to mobilize all teachers in Nakaseke to withdraw their labour. In fact, the LCV Chairperson will be held accountable for the eventual performance in PLE 2018 because of the role he has played in disrupting the morale and motivation of the teachers in Nakaseke.
As a Union, we urge Government and other stakeholders to appreciate that the proper status of teachers and due public regard for the profession of teaching are of major importance for the full realization of quality education. Let us support teachers with the right tools and resources to deliver the quality of education that this country needs. We cannot continue to push teachers to produce first grades in a ‘do or die’ manner if they have not been equipped to do so. UNATU has already petitioned the Hon. Minister of Education on the matter and also preparing to take the matter to the Industrial Court.
BECAUSE WE ARE, THE NATION IS.
Baguma Filbert Bates
19th April 2018