Kampala — The Ministry of Education and Sports has asked the Finance ministry to reconsider their wage bill and allow them recruit 22,000 primary school teachers to enable them deliver quality education.
"We were told there is no budget for teacher recruitment, yet we have a deficit of 22,000 teachers in all primary schools across the country. We call upon Finance to improve the wage bill for us to be able to recruit new teachers," Dr Tonny Mukasa Lusambu, the assistant commissioner for Primary Education, said yesterday.
Dr Lusambu also said they still have 320 parishes without any government-aided primary school, contrary to government policy that demands every parish should have a primary school.
But the Ministry of Finance spokesperson, Mr Jim Mugunga, told Daily Monitor yesterday that recruitment should be planned for and warned that they won't employ people they are not ready to pay.
"In the past, people would be recruited and spend six months without pay. That was abuse of one's rights. They need to plan, undertake human resource needs and budget for them. Planning is not waking up that day and say you want 22,000 teachers. No. When did they realise the deficit? It is always easy to create a crisis. We no longer recruit without prior plans to pay their wages," Mr Mugunga said.
The Ministry of Education through its departments of Basic Education and Teacher Instructor Education Training (TIET) will meet nearly 4,000 teachers across the country for a two-day conference at St Lawrence London College in Wakiso District tomorrow to discuss issues affecting them.
President Museveni is expected to officiate at the function under the theme: 'Teachers matter."
Dr Lusambu said the government will use the conference to remind the teachers of their roles in delivering quality education but also share with them the need to change their attitude.
"The teachers' challenges are many. They have no accommodation and have heavy workload because the pupil-teacher ratio, which should be 40 pupils to one teacher currently stands at 53 to 1. Many rural schools are struggling with a teacher handling 100 pupils," Dr Lusambu said.
"We have many dilapidated structures, especially in the old traditional schools, which are in poor state and need rehabilitation. We hope to use the conference to empower the teachers and emphasise that they matter if the nation is to develop," he added.
Mr Filbert Baguma, the Uganda National Teachers' Union (Unatu) general secretary, yesterday demanded that government streamlines salary payment as many of their members continue to miss their emoluments while others find unexplained deductions and increment.
He also cited the need for government to increase capitation grant to schools from the current Shs10,000 per pupil annually to at least Shs30,000 to enable school managers buy teaching aids to facilitate the teaching and learning, especially in light of the high cost of living.
"Teachers are demotivated. You are in class waiting for salary and at the end of the month, it is not there. You have obligations and you cannot meet them. You spend time looking for alternatives to make ends meet. You cannot be at the district and in class at the same time. So you skip lessons which affects your performance," Mr Baguma said.
To overcome the hurdles, Mr Baguma urged government to implement teachers' scheme of service and introduce an automated system where teachers are easily secured on retirement payroll upon reaching retirement age.