President Yoweri Museveni wants a model of education focused on achieving the much-desired socio-economic transformation in Uganda.
While officiating at the belated World Teachers' Day Celebrations at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala on Wednesday, under the theme: “Transformation of education begins with teachers,” Museveni said the mission of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Government since coming to power in 1986 has been to ensure the socio-economic transformation of Ugandans.
“Because now we are not under the kings, we are not colonial agents. We are a National Resistance Movement. Our mission is the socio-economic transformation of our people by moving away from the non-money, traditional, pre-capitalist non-money economy to a money economy with a society, composed of the middle class and the skilled working class,” Museveni said.
The President who was flanked by the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Mama Janet Museveni told teachers that whereas Education is an element in socio-economic transformation, it must be the right type of Education, which addresses the country’s needs to get rid of peasants producing another peasant.
“This one we don't accept. The NRM says we must build a skilled working-class society like in Europe where the whole society is either middle class or skilled working class. Please teachers, if you want to help your country, get this. Let everybody enter into the money economy through education and the four (4) sectors of Agriculture, Manufacturing, Services and ICT,” he urged.
To achieve the NRM mission of socio-economic transformation, the President called upon teachers to support his idea of free education (Education for all) to enable children of the poor to study free in government schools.
He also expressed dismay over non-cooperative headteachers that are obstructing this move by introducing unnecessary endless school charges that have in the end discouraged children from Education and many have ended up dropping out of schools.
“When we introduced this in 1997, enrollment went up from 2 million children to over 10 million in primary schools. But up to now, you bring charges in schools and the children drop out. The completion rate in UPE is 32% in the whole of Uganda because children drop out due to the school charges. If the capitation grant is not enough, why don’t you raise that?” Museveni wondered, adding that this would enable the government to concentrate on building more classroom blocks and laboratories plus equipping them.
“Therefore teachers, I congratulate you on this day but I really want less obstruction and I will not accept threats,” Museveni said.
On salary increment, President Museveni and teachers under their umbrella body, Uganda National Teachers' Union (UNATU) again sharply disagreed over the government's plan to increase the remuneration of only science teachers, leaving out their arts counterparts.
The President said that the government will not backtrack on the decision and asked UNATU leadership not to resist his efforts or put him under pressure after knowing that the government is prioritizing scientists first to encourage Science and Technology Innovation under the science-led development strategy.
“I want to inform the teachers that money is not made by witchcraft and secondly, I’m not God who in the book of Genesis said let there be earth and water and it was made. For us in NRM we don't do things by miracle, we do things by work, sacrifice, and struggle. When it comes to expenditure, you must prioritize. If somebody is against prioritization we disagree and we can only have a fallout,” Gen Museveni said, warning teachers to stop the indiscipline.
The General Secretary of UNATU, Filbert Baguma, who spoke highly about the role of teachers at the forefront of transforming Education, informed the President that whereas he remains committed to his grand plan for scientists, this does not take away the fact that a 300% salary increment for one category of teachers versus nothing (0%) for others is unfair.
“We appreciate what was given to one category of teachers and we look forward to you keeping your promise to bring all other categories of teachers on board since the increment has left the teaching fraternity disunited and has affected the teamwork which is required for the delivery of quality education,” Baguma said.
He also presented the plight of teachers in private institutions who decried about job security and salary disparities.
“These teachers request for support from the Government in setting minimum pay regulations for teachers in private education institutions. Many meet challenges in trying to access bank loans and others are working for meagre pay with threats of dismissal if they complain. This can change if there is a regulation on the minimum pay for a private teacher,” he added.
The President who described himself as a licensed teacher who has been teaching since 1965, said all these years he has been teaching with no pay or little pay.
“I taught people who created a new army the National Resistance Army (NRA) which did not exist, now called Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) starting with 5 people in 1971 and for 17 years (1971 to 1987), I was teaching these soldiers to defend Uganda..."