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TEACHERS: If you cannot pay us well, give us a decent burial

Teachers meeting Minister Adoa

Teachers promise to work harder if their families are assured of a coffin for each of them

Serere, Uganda |  STEPHEN ELIGU | After living in poverty for years as they serve the nation, the teachers in Serere District have asked to at least be spared from starting the journey into the next world in the same misery they have lived.

They have now summoned the courage to put their ‘dying wish’ to govenrment through the members of the next Parliament – MPs who will be elected in this week’s 2021 General Elections.

They have asked those who make it to parliament, to lobby government for teachers to at least be assured of decent burials.

We will work harder

The teachers say they cannot save at all from their meager salaries,  not even for a decent burial, and are now pleading for at least a coffin. This they say, would enable them to work harder knowing that at least their burial will not be embarrassing to their families.

Speaking on behalf of the other teachers, Lambert Okiria, the head teacher of Abuket Primary School in Kyere Sub County noted that after they have served government for several years, teachers face the humiliation of being buried according to their economic status.

He said, they would wish to be buried like their better-off counterparts in public service and other sectors in the country who all get a decent sendoff. Government spends sh68million on the burial of each Member of Parliament, they noted.

“It has been noticed that most teachers in Serere and in the country are not given decent burials. We are asking you to help us on this issue,” Okiria told visiting State Minister for Fisheries, Hellen Adoa Abeku.

Over 137 teachers of Kateta and Kyere Sub Counties were meeting the State Minister at Serere, when they poured out their hearts to her.

If this wish is granted by the next parliament, the teachers of Serere pledge that they would be better motivated to do their work when they are still alive.

Their spokesperson, Okiria, decried the living conditions of the teachers, and asked that they also be accorded some financial support to enable them engage in poultry and piggery to supplement their meagre salaries.

Teachers and the Education sector ahve been one of the most affected in the country due to closure of all main schools activity for nearly a year now due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Richard Atubi and Paul Opio, all teachers of various schools in the district backed Okiria saying that the meager salaries which always delays makes them unable to purchase even a mere coffin.

Hellen Catherin Atim, a teacher of Olupe Primary School noted that some of their clans are too poor to support the burial of teachers and she has failed to educate her boy child because the government has not supported them with income generating activities.

“Some teachers cannot get support from the clans at burial, so they need to be supported, like if they have an association created to bury them,”Atim said.

Other concerns raised by teachers included the coding of community schools, teachers corporate wear and transport facilitation during transfers.

Adoa who doubles as the Serere District woman MP promised to ensure that she lobbies for the teachers welfare to be improved if she is voted back in this year’s elections.

“We can support their burial groups. Burial groups need chairs, tents, saucepans. These are things that can help, so that when Teachers lose relatives, others can go support them,” the minister said.

In June 2020, Government officials announced that  Covid-19 pandemic, floods and landslides had  forced government to push the planned pay rise for civil servants to 2023.

Authorities in Public Service docket revealed that only public universities academic staff will get salary increment in the forthcoming financial year 2020/2021.

Catherine Bitarakwate, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, told journalists in Kampala that they needed Shs350b for the salary increment of all public servants. There are 319,000 civil servants in the country.

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