Open letter to Uganda president: Stop frustrating our education system
18 September 2013
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
Republic of Uganda
18 September 2013
Re: Stop frustrating our education system
I have been following all matters concerning our education system here in Uganda and am deeply concerned about how it is handled. Today, I woke up in the morning reading the news headline on Uganda’s news media “the Observer “saying “Museveni: sack striking teachers” and again the arrogance speeches of the minister of education and sports ,Jessica Alupo, plus your commonly known Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) on medias since the teachers started striking made me pick up my Computer to write this to you as the president.
Mr. president , as we all know these intimidation, warnings of sackings, rough speeches, and all other forms of harassments put on teachers will not help but instead will make teachers turn against the government to demand for their rights as citizens of this nation. I believe dialogue is the only way to solve these matters. Teachers profession will be looked as a no go zone for our children if it continues to be like this.
I as I write now, am one of the people who have never liked to join the teaching profession because of the experience I have from elder brother who trained as a teacher and started teaching but his life has never changed due to the little money the government pays them. Increasing teacher’s salaries by 20% is not too much and nothing much can affect the government on this. I have always heard of other sectors refunding money to the accounts committee after failing to allocating this money well; I believe this money can be allocated to badly-off sectors like the education sector to boost it.
Mr. President, have you ever asked yourself why many Ugandans are not taking their children to government schools but to privately owned schools? If not , I will want to let you known that government schools are frustrating and bad for Ugandan children now days due to the problems associated with them.
Uganda has more than 160 000 primary teachers and are among the worst paid public workers in East Africa. Primary school teachers in Uganda earns an average 250 000 shillings ($97.16) a month. These teachers are also parents and have children who are in high institutions of learning where they pay for their children’s tuition and all other forms of fees. They have buy clothes for themselves, children, and wives. What can 250000 shillings do to change lives of these teachers? On top of that they are supposed to teacher in only one school from morning up to evening, Is this not exploitation Mr. President?
Mr. President is time for your government to wakeup and stop frustrating our education system. Otherwise our education system will collapse in a few years to come, Primary education is the foundation for every promising Ugandan children and the only better thing we can give our children is education.
Our government introduced free education system known as Universal Primary Education (UPE) in 1997 and it was regarded us one of the Government’s main policy tools for achieving poverty reduction and human development goals.
UPE was designed as a national programme aimed at providing free education to all young Ugandan children following the emphasis by United Nations General Assembly in 1948 that stated that “Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free for at least the elementary and fundamental stage”.
Under this free education system, the Government of Uganda abolished all tuition fees and Parents and Teachers Association charges for primary education to enable all Ugandan Children access free education.
The government promised to provide facilities, resources and also to ensure that education is affordable by the majority of Ugandans. And also make education equitable in order to eliminate disparities and inequalities and reduce poverty by equipping every individual with basic skills as a way of enabling every Ugandan child to enter and remain in school until the primary cycle of education is over.
Following its introduction, the Ugandan government saw gross enrollment in primary school increased from 3.1 million in 1996 to 7.6 million in 2003.
This enrollment increment attracted the government to think that its goals were well hitting its targets and in 2007, Uganda became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to introduce universal secondary education which also aimed at giving free secondary education to Ugandan children.
Many years down to road, the Uganda government has started struggling to stem the decreasing figures of children enrolled in the Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Primary Education (USE) and there is little that is being done to improve the welfare of the teachers. There have been delays in paying teacher’s salaries, salary cuts, poor housing, poor equipments and facilities, no living wages, and government’s new system whereby teacher’s tenure dependents on performance also make the whole education system in Uganda to face difficulties.
Mr. President, basing on what I have written here it shows that our education system may collapse soon if something is not done to uplift it. Mr. President, I think all your advisors on the education sector should be sacked and replaced by young talented Ugandans who can advise you well on these matters.
Lastly, the idea of sacking striking teachers and replacing them with disparate Jobless teachers will not boost the education sector but instead will make it collapse the more because they also get frustrated soon when they don’t meet demands.
The minister of education and sports, Jessica Alupo, should be sacked and replaced with another Ugandan education specialist who can handle the matter of education wisely and amicably through dialogue not through intimations and dictatorial speeches.
Responsible Citizen of Uganda