Arts teachers have threatened to down their tools of trade when pupils return to school next month if the government does not enhance their salaries next Financial Year (FY) by 100 percent.
The teachers, in a letter addressed to the Public Service minister, questioned what they called “double standards” when the government increased salaries of their counterparts running the rule over science subjects by 300 percent.
Mr Filbert Baguma, the secretary general of the Uganda National Teachers Union (Unatu), said since the budgetary process for FY2023/2024 is still ongoing, the government should consider enhancing salaries of all arts teachers in secondary and primary schools.
“If the government is indeed serious about promoting quality education and also values the contribution of all teachers, the enhancement of salaries for primary and secondary teachers should be given priority,” Mr Baguma said in his letter.
The government charged the education sector into chaos in 2021 after announcing that—starting FY2022/2023—the salary for a degree-holder science teacher would increase to Shs4 million, up from Shs1.2 million, while a diploma-holder science teacher would take home three times more with a Shs3 million pay cheque.
The implementation of the directive fomented a strike by Arts teachers last year. The government succeeded in pulling the plug on the strike when it convinced the Arts teachers that their salaries would in time be enhanced. Now Mr Baguma claims the Arts teachers cannot wait any longer for the promised increment.
“Proposals to postpone the enhancement of salaries of these categories of teachers to a later date is very unfair and demotivates them even more,” he wrote, adding, “The best way forward is for the government to expedite salary rise.”
In an interview yesterday, Mr Baguma said if the government does not include the money for their enhancement next financial year, they will not report to class when the new term opens.
While attending last year’s national teachers’ day celebration at Kololo, Kampala, in December, President Museveni asked teachers not to put him under pressure over salary increments.
“When it comes to expenditure, we must prioritise our spending. So when you come up with useless demands saying we want this tomorrow, then you are the enemy of progress,” the President said then.
Mr Baguma said President Museveni keeps postponing enhancing the salaries of Arts teachers oblivious to the fact that it is a ticking clock.
“We shall not leave the issue until it is sorted. President Museveni can keep saying whatever he wants, but as long as it remains unresolved, it will remain an issue,” Mr Baguma said.
The Unatu secretary general said in 2018, the body and other public service unions signed a collective bargaining agreement with the government that clearly highlighted the plans for salary enhancement across all categories of teachers for FY2018/2019 and 2019/2020. He hastened to add that the government disrespected this when it increased salaries for only science teachers.