Until I saw Jonathan Kivumbi’s article on salary enhancement to different categories of scientists in Uganda, I had always assumed that the matter had been put to rest!
The first time the President mentioned it was just soon after the Liberation War.
That time (around 1990) I was undergoing training as a Secondary School Teacher.
In his pronouncement, the President made it clear that there would be special remuneration for Science, English and Mathematics teachers. I too, thought I would benefit from the same scheme. This scheme has not picked up well.
We must thank the Government because they have been cautious in handling the matter.
Today, it has resurfaced. True we need scientists; to discover, to produce, to cure, to protect us and help in all ways scientific.
Let no one object completely these noble Presidential Initiatives.
However as citizens who shoulder the burden of taxes or sweat to improve the national income, we certainly have a role to play.
Indeed a very big role to play! This is where we come in. It helps if government can listen and collate our fragmented ideas.
In the first place, salary enhancement is a fundamental duty of the state as is laid down in the Preamble of our constitution subsection ii and XIV.
The latter focuses on rights of all Ugandans to enjoy and have access to education, health services, clean and safe water, work, decent shelter, adequate clothing, food security, pension and retirement benefits.
My argument begins at this point: other than paying individual science teachers in the secondary schools that 4 m, has government done enough to address those socio-economic rights issues most frequently referred to as poverty, ignorance, and diseases?
Think of Northern Uganda where the majority of the wananchi are sleeping in grass thatched huts. The boundary of mabati and grass thatched huts begins from River Kafu and move northwards to Nimule and beyond, I should think! The Acholi and Karamojong are one of the most economically poor if not backward lots in the Ugandan ratings.
The health facilities are very bad: often without drugs leave alone the inoculation constraints of Corona. How can we achieve the millennium goal of reaching middle income level when the valuable and absolutely scarce money resources are being pushed out to some individuals?
Government secondary schools structures are crumbling. They need vehicles and modern laboratories, modern libraries (or learners’ e-learning devices), teachers houses, renovation of classroom blocks, fencing, etc. USE money needs beefing up!
In Uganda, there are specialized Ministries that deal with remuneration, compensation and enhancement. Finance, Planning, Economic Development and the Public Service are the best brains to manage such matters. They do it by weighing the economic status of the country. They are better placed to talk about the indicators, stimuli and constraints of growth!
Then when it comes to enhancement itself, they are the ones to guide on the structure of pay or wage rise. They are guided by scales which various organisations modify to suit their needs. Universities, Judiciary, Health, Education, Forces, etc have their schedules. Government White Papers so produced are documents that should stand the test of time!
The Keynesian paradigm cautions against increasing labour cost simply because it can lead to higher prices.
Give the secondary school science teacher this money and he will become complacent. I expect lots of disciplinary issues to arise from such LAVISH spendings!
Not all science teachers are good at their subjects. Some are only good at teaching science by lecture methods. That makes science no science! That makes science arts! As a teacher, I was taught that science laboratory is everywhere in the environment but you find a Biology lesson being conducted as if the flowers or leaves the teacher is talking about are found in foreign lands, up on top of Mt Kilimanjaro or in heaven where only ‘dead’ souls go. Such science teachers are no good at all at practicals.
I know of a Chemistry practical in which the reagents (X, Y, Z) were interchanged and the candidates failed that particular question. We had to quell an impending strike. There are two cases where water from a river (not the distilled water directed) was used in the practical exams.
Enhancement of such magnitudes should be commensurate with performance! It should be in the national interest; anchored on national philosophy.
The amount government envisages to allot science teachers is too high. Better scale down.
LEAVE SOME FOR OTHER PRIORITIES OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE.
It should also not create a very huge gap with the arts counterparts.
There are risks in sciences. A teacher at St Charles Lwanga’s Kalongo was one time bitten by a snake as he was collecting frogs from a swamp. We saved his life, thanks to Dr Ambrosoli Memorial Hospital Kalongo medics. Another teacher somewhere in Aboke fell in a used pit latrine when he was trying to catch cockroaches. Okay, pay the scientists something proportionately worked out by competent ministries. May be science teachers could be paid the same rate like arts teachers but with consideration for SPECIAL SCIENCE ALLOWANCE. That is acceptable!
Even then, there is need to consider their qualifications. Those who took longer at the shrine of learning deserve better pay. Graduate Teachers are highly learned. Not all of them got Second Class Upper (in Science Education) which qualifies one to lecture at the University.
All teachers matter in moulding the learner. If we want to develop an all-round personality, we must not disregard Mathematics, English, Languages, Literature, CRE, History, Geography, Economics, Accounts, Commerce, Games and Sports, etc. The significance of these subjects is stressed in Bloom’s Taxonomy that grades knowledge into three domains: the cognitive, affective and psychomotor. I leave this bit to scholars. I might revisit it at a later time!
Take CRE, for instance, it’s Ten Commandments and the various moral lessons are, in my view, the fabrics of modern law. The lawyer begins his career mainly with the Arts. By the, most Political Leaders are artists! We need Accountants who normally begin with the Arts!
Finally, salary enhancement, if not we’ll conceived or set on merits cascades into a selectively segregative and an unworthy undertaking.
The writer, Mr Okello Alfredo, is a retired Education Officer and a former member of the District Service Commission.