Kampala– Teachers under their umbrella body, Uganda National Teachers’ Union (Unato), have asked government to quickly recruit and replace colleagues who have died.
The Unato general secretary, Mr Filbert Baguma, while addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday ahead of Teachers Day today, said: “Unato records indicate more than 380 teachers have so far died between January and today, but why is replacement not immediate?”
He accused the Education Service Commission of dragging its feet in recruiting teachers despite the availability of funds in the budget.
“There are funds [for recruitment] available in the budget but progress is very slow, yet we are in the second quarter of the Financial Year 2018/2019,” Mr Baguma said.
Increasing the number of teachers, he said, will help reduce teacher-learner ratio, which currently stands at 53 to 1. World Teachers’ Day is held annually on October 5, with schools across the country directed to close today to enable the teachers enjoy their day.
The teachers’ leadership said almost a third of heads of institutions have been working in caretaker capacity for 13 years.
“This is not only illegal, but exploitative,” Mr Baguma warned.
The teachers also want the government to take charge of burial arrangements of colleagues who die in active service just as it is done for other public servants.
“Government by policy is supposed to buy coffin, construct the grave, buy a wrapping cloth, wreaths, and the responsible officer is supposed to write a condolence message to next of kin and transport the body to the burial ground. All these are not being done. It is discriminatory,” Mr Baguma said.
Dr Asuman Lukwago, the Education Service Commission permanent secretary, said there was delay to get clearance from Public Service Commission to recruit.
“We got clearance on 12 September and we have advertised. The challenge with teachers is; you cannot post a teacher in the middle of the term or during holidays. But we are recruiting,” Dr Lukwago said.
Commenting on why there are delays in replacing dead teachers who do not have new financial implications, Dr Lukwago said the problem has been within Local Governments that delay to report deaths to the ministry, but that is changing with the new leadership in the ministry.
In 2016, this newspaper reported that Parliament had budgeted Shs67.7m on burial expenses for each MP. This privilege, the teachers said, should cut across all public servants regardless of their profession.
Teachers remain one of the most disgruntled professionals in the country.
According to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) research findings two years ago, over 80 per cent of the teachers wanted to quit the profession.
Poor pay, low motivation, heavy workload, among others things, were cited as the key drivers why teachers curse going into the profession.