13 December 2012

Rwanda: Teachers Decry Delay in Payment of Arrears

Primary and secondary school teachers have raised concerns over salary arrears that have accumulated over the years.

The complaints were raised on Tuesday when officials from the Ministry of Education paid a visit to over 6,000 teachers marking national examinations at Kagarama Secondary School in Kigali.

According to the teachers, even the annual increment on their salaries, depending on the time in service, has in most cases gone unpaid over the years.

Victor Munyampeta, a teacher at Lycée Notre Dame de Cîteaux in Kigali, who has taught for the past 25 years said that the arrears have been accumulating ever since he started working.

"It is a long time since I started teaching. The system of paying us arrears has been failing though we have been promised to be paid. Each employee is supposed to be remunerated depending on how long they have been in service but I have not gotten anything," said Munyampeta.

"The problem is that despite the fact that we are not paid, we still pay taxes."

Another teacher from Nyamasheke District, who preferred anonymity said;

"I have been in service since 1983. My salary has been almost the same. We had been promised a salary increase depending on how long we have served since 2000 but we got nothing. If I get my arrears, I estimate it could go up to Rwf400, 000," she said.

Athanase Halindintwali, who teaches at Ecole Secondaire de Murama in Muhanga District, urged the government not to tax their arrears.

According to the State Minister in charge of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Mathias Harebamungu, the salary arrears resulted from poor budgeting at the district level.

"The districts do not fulfil the requirements well in order for teachers to get their arrears. When the reports get to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, they are rejected and sent back to the districts for correction resulting in delays in paying teachers," said Harebamungu.

He added that the system of promoting teachers depends on the length of service and level of qualifications which was another reason for the delay in payment.

"The government recognises the issue of your arrears and it is doing its best to pay you soon," said Harebamungu.

According to the state minister, only Huye, Rulindo, Bugesera and Nyamagabe districts had complied with all the requirements. He added that salary arrears for teachers in these areas would be paid by January next year.

Meanwhile, the teachers marking the national examinations contributed a total of Rwf29,962,600 to the Agaciro Development Fund.

The teachers marking the primary and secondary examinations contributed Rwf 27,121,000, while 493 who are marking the Workforce Development Authority (technical and vocational) exams raised Rwf 2,841,600.

According to John Ssuuna, a teacher at APRED secondary school, the fund is not only a pride to teachers but to all Rwandans.

"The idea behind this is that we want all Rwandans and other countries to understand the real value of the Agaciro Development Fund. I contributed to the fund voluntarily because I want to contribute to the development of my country," said Suuna.

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