The recent spotlight on teachers and the teaching profession should bring some adulation for the Ministry of Education and Sports, but this may cover certain glaring shortcomings, too, that need to be addressed.
That 50 or so primary level teachers are to get extra emoluments for their service to this nation is salutary, but this plays out both ways.
For those recognized, it is an added acknowledgment to a demanding career and profession, even though it is a wholly satisfactory activity. Yet for those at the wrong end of acclamation, it can spell discouragement and the result would affect the learners under their care. So, it begs the question, is the whole profession and all the teachers adequately catered for?
The membership of the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU), goes to about 400,000 teachers nationwide, aside from the other independent associations. And for some years now, UNATU has been in a tussle with the Government over pay. In the last two years, or so, the teachers have been promised an adjusted remuneration upwards, but those promises keep on being extended to futuristic financial years. And it has made the union jittery.
Its other associates, too, are uncomfortable, as is their umbrella body, the National Organization of Trade Unions. And the action to select the 50-or-so teachers comes at the backdrop of the recent recanting of Government to establish a minimum wage against which all other payments for the workforce of the country would be tagged. It is against this that the selection of the hard-working teachers has to be looked at.
Also, the conditions under which the whole teacher force in the country works under should be coming under scrutiny to lend support to the performance of the teachers.
Sometime ago, the World Bank did an assessment of the education system, particularly dealing with the Universal Primary Education (UPE). It came up with an assessment that a credible standard of education has not been availed to the millions of children for them to qualify to attend the Secondary school stage of education and the other higher levels.
This being the case, it is then a wonder as to what level of learners these other teachers have been working in to be given the accolades. In other words, the question should be addressed to the entire “system of education”.
Such would concern the curriculum which is being used to educate the learners. There has been a general disquiet that the standard, at which the learners come out, from whatever level of examination, belies the kind of attainment expected of the learners. Such is the case that the students graduating at the university level do not qualify for anything!
That apart, the system also seems to have departed from teaching morals to the learners. There is a total lack of etiquette among the youth of today.
The effect of it has now been seen and felt at every turn of activity the country is involved in.
A glaring example is the almost total lack of time-keeping and attending to appointments to do whatever activity when it is needed. And when one looks at the present generation, there is consternation as to what the country will look like in the next generation. These factors have to come into play as one considers the kind of acclaim some of the education providers get. Is it genuine, or there are some other considerations apart from excellence?
If it is to woo the whole teaching profession into distinction, it might fail, because it segregates the bulk of the teachers. And when one looks at the influence the teachers in general, have on the whole population it should be a smack, for instance, on politicking.