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Union leaders, educationists call for unity among teachers

Filbert Bates Baguma, General Secretary of Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU). File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda National Teachers Union-UNATU has called for unity among teachers if they are to transform the education sector.

Filbert Baguma, the UNATU Secretary General says that currently, teachers are divided, blaming it on the government.

According to Baguma, UNATU does not want to see teachers divided, the reason it pushes for the welfare of all teachers regardless of the education level or subject they teach.

The government increased the salary of science teachers by nearly 300 percent, a decision that stirred the education sector. In several schools, sharp divisions emerged among the science and arts teachers.

Aaron Mugaiga, Secretary General Uganda Professional Science Teachers’ Union, says that teachers can put aside their differences since they are working in the same environments and serving the same learners. Mugaiga however adds that despite their desire for unity, they do not intend to dissolve their union and rejoin UNATU. But he emphasizes that the two unions can always stand in solidarity to speak up for the rights and welfare of teachers.

Patrick Kaboyo, an educationist and technical advisor to an education advocacy group, says a divided workforce foretells the demise of the education industry. Kaboyo says that although teachers need to unite to have a strong voice, it should be in the interest of the government, as the principal stakeholder in the education system, to have a united workforce in such a critical sector.

Zadock Tumuhimbise, the UNATU National Chairperson said that as the country marked the teachers’ day, the government should be mindful that teachers of arts and those in primary education are serving with heavy hearts.

“One wonders if indeed there is actual teaching and learning taking place. Discriminatory tendencies within the teaching fraternity breeds disunity, demoralization of the unfavoured and affect staff teamwork and unity which is required for the delivery of quality education,” says Tumuhimbise.

Vincent Elong, the Uganda Profession Science Teachers Union National Chairperson, says that the government should be reminded that some of their colleagues were not taken care of when salaries were increased. “Headteachers who teach science should also receive their proper wage increases. Despite being administrators, they also teach science.

They are allocated a teaching load and are required to teach. The government ought to treat this issue seriously,’ he adds.

Besides salary concerns, Tumuhimbise and Elong say that time is also ripe for the government to address other concerns affecting the teaching-learning process including deteriorating work environments and limited infrastructure among others.

There have also been calls for continuous professional development as one of the means to keep the teachers up to date, raising their quality which will eventually translate into giving quality education.

Prof Masagazi Musaazi, a renowned educationist and former Principal of the College of Education and External Studies at Makerere University, says that to ensure quality education, there should be quality initial training of teachers but the emphasis should also be put on Continuous Professional Development-CPDs.

Ismail Mulindwa, the Ministry of Education Acting Permanent Secretary says that the ministry, through the new National Teacher Policy, has already made it compulsory for all teachers to undergo regular CPD every after a stipulated time.

“This issue has already been raised in the teaching policy. Many teachers have been in the classroom for many years without ever taking a refresher course of any kind. As things evolve, there are new ways to teach content to learners. CPD is now required under the new regulations. This will become operational with the establishment of the Uganda National Teacher Institute,” adds Mulindwa.

However, he cautions against waiting for the government to set up the desperately needed CPDs because individual schools can always organize some for their teachers or collaborate with other schools so that their teachers exchange experiences with colleagues.

Although a large portion of teachers across the country stayed away from class on Wednesday to honor their internationally recognized day, the national celebration has since been pushed to November 11.

According to a communication issued by the education ministry, this year’s national teachers day was celebrated under the theme; “Transformation of education begins with teachers.”



One comment

  1. Please don’t lie us anymore, Arts teacher we are tired! I can’t say that we can unite with such rich men and women of science when they are enjoying but for us were crying.

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