Teachers have over the years, been told how this government ‘isn’t financially okay’ and how ‘it would remember them’ if the situation improved. And the teachers have always given it the benefit of the doubt even if they don’t trust their government very much.
That is why whenever teachers feel like losing the will to go on with their vital national service, government would see the wisdom to honour their obligations to the teachers and they pay what it owes to the selfless people who gave education to us all.
We don’t know where we would be or what we would be if we hadn’t gone to school. Think about it. There would be no doctors, there would be no engineers, there would be no lawyers, there would be no economists, there would be no journalists, not even politicians and so on. But because there were teachers, god bless them, most of us are what we are today.
Unfortunately, politicians, whoever put them in charge of the management of the affairs of state, have never, in their wisdom, seen it fit to recognise teachers as very valuable resources.
That is why politicians who spend their time arguing over things that add no value to the lives of people who trust them with their votes in the hope they in turn would care to find solutions that can help add value to their existence, see it fit to earn more than the teachers.
Now, whenever politicians are campaigning before elections, the major factors they emphasise have always been Education, Health, jobs, poverty reduction and so on. When they win and get into government or into parliament, they shamelessly relegate education and health matters at the end of the priority list. And what do they do?
They start with increasing salaries for themselves. Then they increase salaries of those from whom they plan to get ‘free’ money from in the course of their tenure of office. That’s how we end up with some fellows earning in one month monies you just don’t want to think about. Extremely obscene. It is this insensitivity and corruption that get ordinary Ugandans calling for CHANGE of government.
Teachers downing their tools today are not doing so because they don’t want to teach the children of Uganda, they are simply protesting against the unfairness of their insensitive and arrogant government which not only underpays teachers as compared to many others, but even the little it is supposed to pay them, rarely comes when they need it so desperately.
And what happens when teachers are forced to boycott teaching ‘until they are paid their entitlements’, they are called ‘unpatriotic’! They are told there is no money for teachers and yet teachers have just read that the parliamentarians have just increased their salaries of millions by 40%.
The reason is harping on obscene salaries of some officers in government departments, is really not about salaries but a reminder to government that it should be ashamed it cannot pay teachers their paltry sums yet can afford to increase salaries of MPs in the same breath.
That the teachers elected to down their tools at this particular time needs to be looked at with critical lenses by all the concerned. Our feeling is that some money will be found government grandstanding notwithstanding. Many Ugandans have learnt over quite a period of time now, that if you want to extract your pound of flesh from this government, the right time is always around this time – the campaign period before a next election.