By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
The Uganda Private Teacher’s Union has called on Parliament to task the Ministries of Education and Finance over the Shs 20 billion meant support teachers from private institutions following the closure of schools in 2020 following the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the union’s Secretary General, Juma Mwamula, President Yoweri Museveni directed the provision of the cash bailout following complaints by teachers from private institutions over the halting of their salaries and emoluments.
The President also announced at the time, that private school teachers were to make part of the list of beneficiaries of the Emyooga programme, so as to receive funds to enable them set up income generating projects.
“But by October 2020, the teachers were arbitrarily removed from the programme,” said Mwamula, adding that “The Uganda Microfinance Centre does not have teachers on their list of beneficiaries yet teachers had invested to set up prerequisite structures like SACCOS in order to benefit.”
Mwamula raised the concerns while presenting a petition to the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga on Thursday, 14 April 2021.
He informed the Speaker that there was an alleged conspiracy by some education ministry officials to manage this fund, noting that it had been removed from the stewardship of the Microfinance Support Centre and put under the Ministries of Finance and Education.
“They have curtailed several of the teacher independent organised voices through our trade union. In occasions where we have expressed our concerns about this money, the officers at the Ministry of Education have regarded us as a less representative group,” he added.
He also raised concerns on what termed as excluding approaches that have been suggested by some education ministry officials, including requiring teachers to have registration certificates to enable them access the monies.
Mwamula told the Speaker that there were thousands of teachers who were short of the registration certificates, especially those in nursery schools, thus the move would prohibit many potential beneficiaries.
“There have been proposals of an interest rate of 15 per cent on the money that the teachers are supposed to access, which is a prohibitive measure that can make them miss out on this grant meant to leverage their lives,” Mwamula added.
He also lobbied the Speaker to weigh-in on the call to totally reopen indigenous educational institutions including nursery schools.
Speaker Kadaga told the meeting that the concerns raised by the Uganda Private Teacher’s Union were a serious matter and would task the Committee on Education and Sports to follow up the issues raised.
“I thought that the matter of the Shs 20 billion was a settled matter because we no longer hear about it. The last time we talked about it, we talked about the criteria of accessing it but it seems the answers have not yet come,” Kadaga said.
The meeting was also attended by Workers MP, Hon. Agnes Kunihira, National Organisation of Trade Unions (NOTU) Chairman General, Usher Wilson Owere and other members of the Private Teacher’s Union.