Open Letter to Education Minister Janet Museveni: All teachers deserve equal pay - UG Standard - Latest News
EDUCATION

Open Letter to Education Minister Janet Museveni: All teachers deserve equal pay

Education Minister Janet Museveni

Education Minister Janet Museveni (PHOTO /Courtesy)

KAMPALA — Reference is made to your remarks, relayed last week, at Kyamate playground, in Ntungamo District, while officiating over the implementation of the district’s Parish Development Model (PDM), in regard to the ongoing industrial action by teachers of arts/humanities, in conjunction with their counterparts in public primary schools.

‘Teachers have betrayed God, government, and Ugandans through their industrial action, because they are disciples who were called to serve the people of God’, so you said. While I agree with you, to a certain extent, with all due respect, Maama, I wish to make it categorically clear, that my agreement with regarding this particular argument, is without any doubt, to a very small extent. Before I can proceed with my submissions, Maama, allow me pose these questions, of course, to you: Where in the Bible do we see Jesus practicing any discriminationatory tendencies amongst his disciples?

According to your submission, does it imply that it is only teachers of arts/humanities, of course, with their counterparts in public primary schools, who are meant to serve the people of God, while yawning, moreover, at a time when the economy is biting too hard, while their counterparts teaching science-related disciplines, are enjoying a 5-STAR hotel meal?

For goodness sake, who advised you, and the President, on this highly questionable decision? From which part of the world was this model copied?

Precisely, which country, world-over, has taken such a move, and attained the desired level of economic growth and development, to the extent of motivating you, as government, to emulate the same? Do we have any scholarly write-up, from any of our universities, or any other university, worldwide, backing up this very unfortunate decision, surely?

If so, how can one have access to this publication? And if not, how then did we reach such a conclusion? Perhaps, should we just assume, that as a country, we only want(ed) to appear unique, in our way of conducting business, the reason we decided the way we did? Are you aware, that as government, you are no love sponsoring teachers of arts/humanities, in any of your public universities, but you have still maintained arts on the national curriculum?

As minister, in-charge (of education, of course), do you find this palatable? So, after failing to educate your own, where do you expect to source for teachers of these seemingly useless subjects, as most officials in government, dishearteningly, including our beloved President, who also doubles as the Fountain of Honour, have chosen to describe them? So, even after struggling to find the necessary resources needed to see them through university education, while their counterparts handling science-related disciplines continue to enjoy government sponsorship, as government you are not even ashamed to relate such people to Judas Iscariot, surely?

Almost everyone in government, including our beloved President, as already stated, has come out to castigate people who are simply fighting for what belongs to them-to the extent of rendering them unpatriotic. For goodness sake, how does a person, who finds their own resources to attend university education, even though they have all that is needed to see them through university, on government sponsorship, and thereafter, opt to serve the same government that deliberately refused to educate them, be considered unpatriotic, ungodly, or a betrayer?

With all due respect, Maama, are you aware that enhancing the salaries for teachers teachings science-related disciplines, under the guise of these teachers being scientists, is not only baseless, but exceedingly unjustified, regardless? What makes a teacher of whatever science-related discipline, a scientist?

Precisely, does it imply, that if one teaches Chemistry, he/she automatically qualifies to be a chemist? Should we, therefore, start describing teachers of Foods and Nutrition, as nutritionists? Does this, therefore, imply that as a teacher of Economics and Entrepreneurship Education, I should start posing around as an economist, just like the late Professor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebire (formerly governor, Bank of Uganda), or Mr. Ramathan Ggoobi, permanent secretary, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning? So, because I teach Entrepreneurship Education, I definitely qualify to be an entrepreneur, like Patrick Bitature, of Simba Telecom, or Sudhir Ruparellia, of Mera Investments?

Established in 1922, Makerere University, will be celebrating 100 years of existence: My question, here is, what is that very unique invention, have our scientists [including doctors (PhD) and professors], come up with, in the 100 years, of the university’s existence?

What is it that sets apart, a person teaching Napoleon, and one teaching the Ohm’s law, or the Archimedes principle, aware of the fact that the two are referring to individuals who lived before?

THE PRESIDENT SPEAKS OUT

While addressing the gathering on the international labour day, in Mityana, on May 1, 2018, President Museveni, informed his audience, and the public, at large, that his monthly pay, stood at only sh3.6m, yet there were/are officials in his government, earning as much as sh40m per month.

‘Even with the small pay, I am the President. I continue serving the country, and my authority can never be challenged’, said the President. ‘If a a history teacher goes away because of pay, we can easily replace them. But, if a science teacher goes, replace them might be a challenge. So, in terms of retention, we are desperate to retain teachers of science subjects. That is why they were prioritized,’ explained the President.

While I entirely agree with the President, that his authority can never be challenged by anyone, whatsoever, I wish to remind him, that Uganda being a democratic and constitutional country, one can challenge the President, more so, on matters of national importance, like I have always done on education, provided the law is followed to its fullest.

I strongly believe, if some of us had lived during the days of Idi Amin, we would be dead by now. However, with President Museveni in the driving seat, we can freely put across our views, even when they might not augur on well with his very own. It is, therefore, against this background, that I wish to make my submissions, about the President’s remarks, here.

[Details of my response to the President’s remarks can be obtained in the New Vision of Wednesday, May 2, 2018: Pages 18-19]

First and foremost, the sh3.6m monthly pay, for the President, is on a higher side, and, in fact, ought to be scaled down. Yes, if I were in Parliament, I would table this motion.

Aware of the fact that the taxpayer fully takes care of the President and his immediate family, throughout the year, why then, should he/she give him [the President], a monthly pay? In my opinion, I strongly believe, instead of salary, the President, is supposed to be an allowance, by the taxpayer, in appreciation of presiding over him/her.

I, therefore, find it unfit for the President to justify the salary disparity between teachers of science-related subjects and their counterparts of arts/humanities, in reference to himself. The President is fully aware that he is a public, and not, a civil servant and/or technocrat, unlike a school head-the reason his monthly pay is way too lower than that of the aforementioned persons. Certainly, the President must be aware, why, for example, even his chief publicist, Linda Nabusayi, earns much more than him.

Just as the chairperson, board of governors, or school management committee, cannot question why he/she earns less than the person he/she is supervising, i.e., the headteacher, the President should equally not compare his monthly pay, to that of his technocrats, since he, is not technocrat. World-over, university vice chancellors, earn much more than their superiors-chancellors and chairpersons of university councils, and none of the latter is complaining, for the reasons why this is done this way, are clearly known.

Precisely, the vice chancellor, is considered a technocrat, while both the chancellor and chairperson university council, are not. Take it, or leave it, Maama, it is practically impossible, for a technocrat, at a superior management level, to oversee the services of a fellow technocrat, who (the latter), is earning more than they are earning. Engage any expert in organizational management, or human resource management, and they will give you more details, here.

There is absolutely no way, a teacher earning sh4m, can be effectively monitored, supervised, and evaluated/appraised by a deputy, or headteacher, earning less than him/her, regardless of the how less.

Practically, with this highly unfortunate decision, it is crystal clear, that team work, one of the strongest pillars of outstanding performance, is going to be fade out, amongst teachers, and in the end, we shall all bear the consequences, worst of all, even of all, even after many years of our demise. Aware of the fact that teachers of arts can easily be replaced, why then, is government resorting to forcing those exercising their constitutional rights, back to class?

What has gone wrong? If these teachers, whose replacement is considered to be so easy, by the President, of course, and his accomplices, lay down tools on June 15, why has it taken you, as government, this long to find their replacement? In any case, why weren’t they replaced just a day after the industrial action had taken course?

And by the way, why are we even bothering our themselves with these arts subjects, yet, as government, we are already convinced that their contribution towards the country’s socio-economic transformation, is very negligible (that is, if it exists anyway), as opposed to science subjects?

Should we assume that all inventions and innovations in Uganda, time immemorial, have been spearheaded by scientists, including teachers of science subjects, whom you, as government, have chosen to describe as scientists, as well? Maama, how much Chemistry, Physics, or Mathematics, do these young boys and girls, in Katwe and Mmengo-Kisenyi [the Jua Kali] who have specialized in the making of all sorts of steel products, have, surely? And by the way, what is the fate of those teachers handling this highly ambiguous subject, described as Integrated Science by NCDC, and Mathematics, aware of the fact that, at the primary school level, teachers do not specialize in any subject?

Maama, what crime have we committed as arts and primary school teachers to be treated this way, moreover, in a democratic and how country, to the extent of threatening to have our services terminated even though, our industrial action, is fully backed up by the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda (Articles 21, 38, and 40 [3-c])? Could there be anyone in this country, who has become a professional scientist and/or teacher of any science-related subject, exclusive of the arts, or primary school, background?

Maama, has studying arts become a crime in Uganda? And how do we expect primary school teachers to acquire degrees in the specified time period, after failing to step-up their pay? Surely, where do we expect these people, majority of whom, already have so many responsibilities to attend to, to get money needed in seeing them through university education, after failing to attend to their salary concerns?

And what is the plight of teachers of science-related subjects in private schools, anyway? So, as the minister in-charge, do you find it worthwhile, for you as government, to convincingly reward teachers of science-related subjects in public schools, while leaving those in private schools, to continually languish in poverty?

Precisely, where does this whole arrangement leave teachers of science-related disciplines in private schools? But, who is the senior presidential advisor on education? Truth be told, Maama, I wish to have a face-to-face conversation with this person, for I have a lot to share with them. I wish you could help me fix this meeting. While it should be noted that nobody is against the sh4m accorded to teachers of science-related subjects, for this has been long overdue, it equally ought to be categorically stated, that as long as government still considers these arts subjects to be part of the national curriculum, the salary of arts teachers too, ought to be stepped-up to sh4m, as well, for there exists no difference, whatsoever, between a teacher of Chemistry and Geography, or Physics and Fine Art (Details on this, will come your way, in my next write-up).

Just as qualitative research, compliments quantitative research, so do arts. Believe it, or not, Maama, in the absence of arts, with specific reference to English Language, attaining formal education, in Uganda, would not only be a daunting task, but it would equally be impossible-the reason we need to treat all teachers, at the same level, fairly. Anything, contrary, to implementation of the principle of equity, in regard to salary enhancement, within the education sector, is not only going to adversely affect us, as a nation, today, but rest assured, even the generations to come, shall have their own share.

No amount of intimidation is going to enable us yield the desired results, aware of the fact that, the ongoing industrial action of arts and primary school teachers, is fully backed by the law-the reason we should opt for negotiations.

My prayer is, as government, you continue engaging the teachers’ leadership, until a lasting solution to the problem is finally found Negotiate, negotiate, and negotiate; there is nothing like over-negotiation.

Jonathan Kivumbi Educationist-communication and language skills analyst 0770880185 [email protected]

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