NATIONAL-The arts teachers have resolved never to go back to class unless their demands are met. This was during a meeting of Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) leaders held in Kampala on Sunday (today).
“The gallant sons and daughters of this country, I want to thank you very much once again. Today we had a meeting of leaders from the entire country. We had a very cordial meeting and they have relayed your message and the message was very clear. No money, no going back to school,” the union’s general secretary Filbert Baguma said in a video message soon after the meeting.
Baguma said they will take the union’s message to President Yoweri Museveni who he (Baguma) said is a benevolent father and will listen to the cries of the teachers.
“We have captured this information as it is and we will take it to the President tomorrow and we hope he will answer our prayers because we are all his children and I don’t believe he will feed some children and leave others malnourished,” the strong-willed Baguma said.
“Remain firm, remain focused and get stronger and stronger every day that passes,” Baguma concluded his message.
The arts teachers laid down their tools on June 15, protesting what they termed as selective salary enhancement.
This followed the budget reading last month that gave their colleagues, the science teachers, a humongous pay raise of up to 300% while they (arts teachers) were given nothing. The increment means that a bachelors science teacher will walk away with a whooping Shs4 million monthly while the arts teacher with the same qualification will earn a paltry Shs940, 000. On the other hand, a diploma science teacher will earn Shs3 million monthly while the diploma arts teacher will earn Shs650,000.
The striking arts teachers have since resisted a volley of intimidations with the first one being a strong-worded letter from Education ministry permanent secretary Catherine Bitarakwate that gave the striking arts teachers a two-day ultimatum to return to class or face deletion from the government payroll.
Education minister and First Lady Janet Museveni also issued her threat recently in which she urged the striking teachers to help themselves by returning to class.
“There are many teachers on the streets. Recently when we conducted interviews to recruit 3,000 teachers, we received more than 30,000 applicants,” she said in a veiled warning to the striking teachers.
The teachers have, however, brushed off the threats in a true Spartan spirit and vowed to continue with the industrial action unless their salary is increased.