Uganda: Bunambutye Teachers Protest Over Non-Payment of Salaries

Bulambuli — Teachers at Bunambutye Primary School in Bunambutye Resettlement Camp, Bulambuli District have protested non-payment of salaries for the past two years.

The teachers were reportedly recruited by the Bulambuli District Local Government in 2019 after government relocated the first batch of landslide victims.

The government set up a temporary education facility, where the pupils close to 1,000 have been studying pending the completion of school structures as part of the resettlement programme.

Although the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) officials say to date, a total of 1,580 persons have been permanently resettled and provided with housing, health facilities, roads, energy, water and education services, among others, victims and local leaders say such things are being exaggerated.

Mr Ali Moya, a teacher at the school, at the weekend said ever since they were posted at the school in 2019, they have never received a salary.

"We were promised that in two months, we would get our appointment letters up to now, we have gone through two financial years, we have neither got the appointment letters nor salary. We are living miserably," he said.

Following the closure of schools by government in March over Covid-19, the school had a total of 41 candidates in Primary Seven, and only 14 candidates reported back when government reopened schools for candidate classes last year.

Teachers say parents took their children to other schools after they realised that the school lacks scholastic materials, such as text books, prep books, pens, among others.

"The school does not receive any facilitation and even the boxes of chalk we use, we just buy using the money parents contribute towards the smooth running of the school," Mr Moya said.

Mr Fred Gidudu, another teacher, said the government has forgotten about them.

"We have never received masks for both teachers and pupils. We have tried to consult the local government officials but they just keep on telling us to be patient," he said.

Mr Gidudu said they also struggle to get food and transport.

He also said the hygiene and sanitation at the school is also worrying as all the pupils share one latrine stanza with 24 teachers.

Mr Mark Bushendich, another teacher, said non-payment would impact on the performance of pupils. "It's going to have an impact on the results because there is no way we can ably teach when we are hungry," he said.

Ms Fobess Nandudu, a parent, who shifted her son to Tabakonyi Primary School, said she could not leave her son to fail .

Mr Nathan Wilson Wanasolo, the chairperson of the landslide victims, said the government should expedite the process of putting the teachers on government payroll.

" I appeal to government officials to follow up on this issue quickly so that we can secure the future of our children," he said.

Mr Ibrahim Wagwasala, the district education officer, said the school is not yet a government school.

"It's a community school run by parents, since it's not coded. The teachers can't receive salaries and other privileges but we as government, we are working on it," he said.

Mr Wagwasala, however, said government will soon handover the complete Bunambutye Primary School.

The school comprises 14 classrooms, administration block, kitchen and staff quarters, according to the October 14, 2020 letter signed by acting Permanent Secretary in the OPM, Mr James Collins Dombo, but victims said they only see eight classrooms and no staff quarters.

The letter, which was requesting for coding of the new Bunambutye Primary School has addressed to the permanent secretary, Ministry of Public Service.

Mr Peter Pex Paak, the RDC, called for calm, saying after the school is coded, government would take over.

"The coding is taking place and soon, the teachers will be absorbed on the government pay roll," he said.

Mr Paak, however, said they also managed to pay some allowances to the teachers, something teachers denied.

"We received about Shs 50 million from the government sometime back and each teacher received about 1.7 million but the government is aware of their plight," he said.

Background

Close to 241 families, comprising more than 4,000 people from different landslide prone-districts in Bugisu Sub-region, were resettled in the camp in two phases between 2019 and 2020.

The first batch was resettled in May 2019 and another in February 2020. The government targets to construct about 900 houses on 2,800 acres of land, which the government acquired in 2013 to resettle about 7,200 people living in Mt Elgon Sub-region.

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