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Opinion: Teachers strike & how gov’t is deliberately killing the education sector

By Alice Alaso 

After a series of gambles and experimental policies in the Education sector, Government of Uganda has now reached its wits end and is now resorting to such high handedness against striking Arts teachers.

It will be recalled that many Commissions have made proposals on how to make our Education relevant, accessible and fundable. Over years GOU has ignored calls for better remuneration and increased funding to Education institutions and schools, preferring instead to use divide and rule and lots of experimentalism in the sector.

Teaching the rural poor in their rural language and administering UNEB Exams in English, automatic promotion for all in UPE and then requiring them, because of their poor performance at A level to sponsor themselves in Tertiary education, refusal to equip labarotories in Secondary schools and then demand that their products do sciences in order to qualify for better pay as science teachers: the refusal to implement affirmative measures in worst performing Districts like Serere, Napak, Zombo etc and then dangle a quota system and Government sponsorship which they can’t qualify for and lastly tell them not to charge money for lunch for their children and give them a capitation equivalent to seven thousand shillings per term per child. And before we understand the education sector is literally wound up, remaining only as a restless dysfunctional and ill funded public sector.

Restlessness, anxiety, negotiations, patronage and threats now define the heart beat of teaching and learning in Uganda.

On top of the above, Divide and rule is the public sector management tool of choice by the NRM.

Having vented my frustrations, let me revert to the teachers strike. 

To the science teachers, congratulations for getting your share. Now please, shut your mouths and keep quiet as you eat. Do not berate Arts teachers because they are also trying to get food on the table, You go to the same markets, same dysfunctional heath centres and pay tuition for children in same institutions. 

The same tuition fees you paid to be trained is what they paid as well.

Please keep quiet and enjoy your cut .

To the Arts teachers we stand in solidarity with you, knowing how no science can ever be taught until you have formed the vowels, the hand writing, the interpersonal relationships, the ability to communicate and the capacity to comprehend the language of instruction.We recognize that you do the same lesson duration like science teachers.We further recognize that societal engineering is vested on your shoulders and that seems to be the reason you are shunned by those in power. Most importantly, we note that you were not fore warned that you would be discriminated against after being offered teacher training by the same Government now threatening your survival. It is unfortunate that they are not offering you a retooling option either. Your concerns are legitimate and Government ought to listen to you.

Government of Uganda, I am sure if you were listening to educationists in the field of early child hood development which you have shunned, those from education Management which you want to populate with cadres and if you listened to professionals in human resource development where you have majored on broadening the gap between the uneducated and the educated, you would know for sure that;

The Arts teacher is the stability you need for science education to thrive.

That different salaries for same tasks is discriminatory and demotivating.

That a teacher sitting in class on the basis of a threat does not mean teaching and learning have taken place.

That standing in front of students and actually delivering a lesson in physics does not and cannot constitute the sum total of learning required to create wholesome personalities needed in the service of humanity.

Lastly, that despite your wanton appetite to break the fabric of our nation..these machinations will ultimately stab your own hand. Exhibiting intolerance is the worst you can adopt in grievance handling. It is a show of fatigue and arrogance

I hope and pray that Government will act appropriately to save our education system. In Uganda, money can be found as long as the issue gets to priority ranking by those in power. Remember also that an education system is only as good as the quality of it’s Teacher.

Alaso Alice Asianut is a Retired Arts Teacher, Parent and Ag. National coordinator – Alliance for National Transformation.

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