Ugandan teachers boycott UNATU’s call for strike

Ugandan teachers boycott UNATU's call for strike
Some schools opened for a series of preparatory meetings ahead of the beginning of the next school term that is scheduled to start on May 27, 2019. At other schools, admission of new students is underway.

Most schools in Kampala have boycotted a call by the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) for a teachers’ strike.

On Sunday, UNATU called for industrial action due to lack of salary enhancements in the 2019/2020 ministerial budget.

On Monday, some schools opened for a series of preparatory meetings ahead of the beginning of the next school term that is scheduled to start on May 27, 2019.

At the schools visited by our reporter, it was business as usual. Staff meetings were taking place and offices were open. At other schools, admission of new students was underway.

David Ssegenddo the head teacher of Buganda Road Primary School says preparing for the new school term is not the same as teaching.

“Our teachers are preparing for the school term with the hope that schools will open on Monday. We cannot sit back and say that we are waiting for the strike to be called off before we can prepare for school term.”

Edward Kanoonya, the head teacher says that they encouraged teachers to come and prepare for the new school term because they did not want the strike to affect the learning process since second term is a busy term.

Agnes Kitimbo, a teacher at Mulago Primary School says that the timing of the strike is good because it gives government time to address the demands of all teachers in the country.

“Right now, there are no pupils at schools so the only thing we can do is prepare for the new term and hope that by the time the term opens, government would have found a way forward.”

Paul Moses Gulaale, the head teacher of Ntinda Primary School says that they had opened as usual to enable new and continuing pupils access services at the school.

According to the school calendar, the school term is supposed to open next week. However, some schools had already opened and some candidate classes are on-going.

Catherine Onen, the head teacher of Kitante Hill School says classes for candidates were expected to go ahead uninterrupted.

“We are hoping that government comes to an agreement with the teachers but for now, we are open because we have candidates that have heavy academic schedules to meet,” Onen said.

Filbert Bates Baguma, the General Secretary of UNATU says that teachers showing up at schools will not deter the spirit of the strike.

“Laying down tools does not have a time table. We are on holiday but that doesn’t stop us from expressing ourselves because come the beginning of the school term, we shall not appear in classrooms. Whether it is holiday time or not, the call was made.”

UNATU is demanding the enhancement of all teacher salaries so that the least paid teacher earns 900,000 shillings on a monthly basis.

Joseph Ngobi, the Public Relations officer at the Ministry of Public Service says that government’s position on the pending matter will be released tomorrow.

“There’s a scheduled meeting tomorrow that shall be attended by all relevant stake holders from different ministries. After the meeting, we shall be in a better position to respond to the call of industrial action.”

President Museveni has since maintained government workers must be patient as raising salaries at the moment would not be sustainable until the economy expands.