Following the closure of schools on 18th-March 2020, over 15 million Ugandans attending various levels of education were sent home. Among the institutions from University, Secondary, Primary, and Nursery level are the catholic founded institutions that are well known for their success both in academics and discipline. These are managed by different dioceses in which they belong.
Since March, some of these schools have been struggling to pay salaries either in reduced percentages or as upkeep to their staff but this has come to an end following the advice of the department of education under the Uganda Episcopal Conference, a body that unites all Bishops in the country.
In a letter dated 13th-July-2020 addressed to all Diocesan Education Secretaries, Rev. Fr. Ronald Okello the National Executive Secretary for Education advised all catholic founded schools to temporarily suspend payments of all staff since the fate of reopening of schools is still unknown.
“As we continue to battle with COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting our country and the world over, and more especially the Education sector, we kindly advise you to temporarily suspend payments of your staff in our private schools” the letter said.
He further advised all schools to write to the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and National Social Security Fund (NSSF) about this suspension of payments to avoid penalties of statutory deductions as a result of accumulated figures that are meant to be obtained from staff salaries and paid to the bodies above.
However, this is to worsen the teachers’ situation that had already started starving even with little pay and in turn, the education sector will register a gap as schools open because these suffering teachers will resort to other income-generating activities and if they do find out how profitable other businesses are.
In a conversation with one of the secondary school teachers, he narrated how life outside school is difficult for teachers due to the fact that they can’t just do any job with fear of their reputation before their own students.
“I started selling Groundnuts so as to support my family but at one point I got heartbroken when one customer barked at me “Ggwe Binyebwa manya ennaku yo” a statement that is used to undermine low-income jobs but this customer was my senior five student.” He said.
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He called upon the Government to at least quickly set up standard operating procedures (SOPs) for schools to open as soon as possible even if it means only candidate classes to resume studies it will save a number of teachers from starvation. It’s very possible for students in candidate classes to keep a social distance and regularly and thoroughly wash hands because they can utilize the space of the other students who are still at home.
I heard the president expressing the fear of the day students who keep on oscillating from home to school but this is a simple matter to resolve all students can be called inside school having space been created by those left home. He added.
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