Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Private school teachers have asked Parliament to urge government to provide funds towards the Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations-SACCOs for private teachers, despite the group failing to organize themselves to obtain the initial 20 billion Shillings Covid-19 presidential grant.
The private teachers leaders under the National Private Schools Teachers’ Association-NAPSTA, on Thursday appeared before Parliament’s Education Committee to respond to a recent motion in parliament urging government to come up with a recovery plan for private education schools.
The recovery plan is sought to address the economic strain associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Education Institutions were first closed on 18th March, 2020, when President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni announced a national lockdown in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19 virus. This directly impacted 73,240 government and private pre-primary, primary, secondary, tertiary and higher institutions with a combined population of 15.12 million learners and 548,182 teachers.
These numbers don’t include supporting non-teaching staff, estimated at over 300,000, and businesses that support the supply chain of educational institutions. This closure of close to 2 years has left several loans acquired by schools and teachers from banks unpaid, with accumulated interest.
President Museveni recently said that primary and secondary schools would re-open in January 2022, after 4.8 million people in priority and vulnerable groups are fully vaccinated including teachers and 330,000 students aged 18 years and above.
Peter Paul Etiang, the NAPSTA chairperson told MPs about the delayed disbursement of the 20 billion Shillings presidential grant to teachers in private schools despite an order by the President in August 2020.
“Despite all efforts put in place so far by different stakeholders towards organizing teachers in private schools to access this money, the teachers haven’t got the money as yet. Our prayers are that parliament urges the Ministry of Education and Sports to expedite whatever processes are pending towards the disbursement of this money to the teachers,” said Etiang.
Information before the committee indicates that on 25th August 2021, the Minister of Education Janet Museveni wrote to the Minister of Finance Matia Kasaija, introducing NAPSTA as the apex association to manage the 20 billion but on 29th September 2021, the association was informed about a protest letter from a coalition of private school associations and unions who needed to be involved in the discussion of how the 20 billion would be managed.
The private teachers asked MPs not to condemn them for failure to organize themselves and instead urge government to increase the fund so as to be able to benefit more teachers.
“There is a total of 350,000 teachers in private schools in the country. The plan so far is for each private school’s SACCO at district or city and the five divisions in Kampala to receive 100 million, and each municipality SACCO to receive 50 million shillings.
Taking an example of a district with only 2,500 teachers, it means each of them would receive 40,000 Shillings.
“It means some teachers will have to wait for a considerable time of about 3 years to be able to benefit,” Etiang explained.
He proposed that government increases the money to benefit at least a quarter of the total number of teachers with a considerable amount of 500,000 Shillings and that parliament considers allocating a vote to grow the Fund annually for the next 5 years.
Emmanuel Ongiertho, the Jonam County MP asked the private school teachers to organize themselves and he blamed the failure to benefit from the money on the bickering amongst the teacher groupings.
Micheal Kakembo, the Entebbe Municipality MP wondered whether the Ministry of Education needs to be directed by parliament to disburse the money.