Primary and secondary school teachers in public schools have raised concern over persistent payment delays in the month of January, saying it affects their wellbeing.
The New Times established that public school teachers in 16 districts had received their January pay by Thursday this week. Most of these received their salary as this reporter was already working on the story.
Information from the Ministry of Education shows that there are 67,000 teachers in public primary and secondary schools across the 30 districts of the country.
A teacher in Nyabihu District, Western Province who spoke to The New Times on Wednesday on condition of anonymity, confirmed they had not received their January salaries. He said their December salary had been paid on the 20th of that month, in time for the holiday season.
He wondered why they receive their salaries on time every month but January.
"It is a countrywide problem and we are wondering when it will be solved," he said.
Asked whether they know the cause of the delay, he said it has always been linked to the recruitment and placement of new teachers at the beginning of the year.
"The worst thing is that you never know when the salary will come, you are uncertain about that bit," he said.
Some teachers told The New Times that delayed salaries have pushed them into debt and restricted their movement to and from work.
Gervais Niyombaze, the Nyabihu District Education Officer in charge of primary and secondary schools, said; "Over the past years, delays of January salaries for teachers have persisted."
He explained that the late submission of payrolls is usually occasioned by the many supporting documents demanded by the ministry. He cited criminal records and medical insurance cards for the new teachers, among other among requirements.
Samuel Mulindwa, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Education, confirmed pay delays for the month of January but hastened to add that, this time around, only teachers from 14 districts were yet to receive their salaries. Mulindwa blamed the delay on districts that don't submit updated payrolls to the ministry on time; the time it takes the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to approve new payroll; and recruitment, placement and relocation of new teachers.
Asked about the way forward, he said a decision had been reached that salaries for the already recorded teachers would be disbursed on time in January (as is the case with other months), while their newly hired colleagues would receive their first pay in the month of February.
In January, a total of 8,016 new teachers for public primary and secondary schools were recruited, he said.
"We are confident that the issue will be solved soon," Mulindwa noted.
Irénée Ndayambaje, Director General of Rwanda Education Board, said only payrolls for five districts were yet to be agreed upon with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning this year.
"We are currently working with the five districts to sort this out and re-submit their files," he said.