samedi, 19 août 2017
 

Uganda : Teachers unveil 2016 manifesto

A teachers’ manifesto has appealed to the next Ugandan government to increase funds allocated to education, to ensure quality teaching and education for all students.

Education is a fundamental human right that must be available and accessible, inclusive and adoptable by all citizens. That’s according to a manifesto covering the period 2016-2021 recently released by the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU). The manifesto also highlights major issues affecting public education and calls on interested parties to ensure inclusive and equitable education outcomes for all. This would translate into an increase from UGX2.02 trillion (approx. US$552 million) to over UGX3.5 trillion (approx. US$956 million).

The manifesto was signed by UNATU’s national President and member of Education International’s Executive Board, Margaret Rwabushaija, and the UNATU General Secretary, James Tweheyo. Developed in consultation with teachers nationwide, the manifesto can be used by teachers hoping to influence government policies on education and to raise issues with the various political parties running in the 2016 elections.

Four issues

Four issues are at the heart of the eight-page manifesto : the provision of decent working conditions, trust and respect from government, professional autonomy, and high quality initial training and continuous training.

“We are asking the next government to adopt the recommendations, so that we are able to improve all aspects of quality education, and to achieve measureable learning outcomes, especially in literacy, numeracy, and essential learning skills,” the manifesto says.

Housing

In the document, UNATU also demands that the next government enhance its allocation on school housing, as only about five per cent of teachers are accommodated at school, leading to absenteeism, late arrivals, and limited time on tasks.

According to the Education Ministry’s statistics, there are 39,479 permanent and temporary teachers’ houses across the country catering for 159,681 teachers in government primary and secondary schools.

Improving teachers’ working conditions

Teachers also request that their remuneration be increased to ensure good living and working conditions. Without mentioning a specific salary, the document makes a case for improving teachers’ remuneration, citing the high attrition rate in the profession : “About 10,000 teachers leave teaching on an annual basis, and 84 per cent of teachers want to quit within the next two years, mainly due to low remuneration.”

UNATU argues that teachers’ pay is less competitive than that offered in other occupations, which explains the will to leave the profession. To resolve this, the union is demanding the creation of a salary harmonisation commission to review all remunerations, with a view to setting up a fair pay scale for all occupations.

Other teachers’ demands

Teachers also want reforms in the pension policy motivating them to stay in the profession, and more resources for the education sector, such as allocations to the Ministry’s Inspection Directorate.

According to the document, the funds allocated for school inspections have not changed since the financial year 2008/09, despite the increasing number of schools and inflation. “We have a high ratio of one inspector to 70 schools, as opposed to the national ideal of one inspector to 58 schools,” the manifesto reads.

Respect for teachers

It is also important for teachers that the next government recognises them in terms of social dialogue as major players in society. In particular, they want the law amended to provide for teachers’ political representation in the Parliament and other state structures as professionals, instead of grouping them together with other industrial workers.

Teachers are also calling for an end to the practice of hiring unqualified teachers to replace off-duty qualified teachers, especially during industrial action. “The use of para-teachers should henceforth be stopped. We need qualified, supported and well-motivated teachers,” the manifesto reads.

The document further recommends that World Teachers’ Day, on 5 October, be designated a public holiday, in recognition of teachers’ contribution to building the nation.

Education International

 
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