Teachers’ Strike Called Off Amid Mixed Reactions

The teachers’ strike came to an end on Wednesday, 10 days after it was declared. The school term began to uncertainty as Uganda National Teachers’ Union, UNATU, directed all teachers to put down their chalk until government agreed to increase their salary by 20%. News Hapa received a large number of citizen reports showing concern over the situation as it became clear that the teachers were not about to go back to the classroom.

In one school, teachers turned up only to sign attendance registers and then left, as reported by Dramuke Luciano from Maracha district. In another, no teacher turned up, and students had to receive lessons from local unemployed youth, says Ariku Ocaya Moses from Adjumani. As the situation got worse, some parents in Kasese opted to take their children in candidate classes to private schools to ensure that they received enough teaching, this being their final term.

The teachers’ strike caused various reactions among Ugandans, with some sympathizing with their conditions as others condemned their move. Munkuluhembe a parent of Bughendero Primary School in Kasese asked, “What can we do as parents to avoid failure in PLE? Uganda needs a lot of prayers otherwise we are headed to a worse situation.” He had this advice to give to the teachers, “The provisions of Uganda's constitution say you should provide fair and free services as a volunteer. Do it as you serve your country.” It is unclear which country’s constitution he quotes given that Uganda’s constitution does not require voluntary service from teachers or anyone else.

Ben Amorimva of Arua however wasn’t keen on forcing teachers back into class. “No one will perform under force. Learning is different from going to war front,” he said, adding, “Leave teachers alone; otherwise they will give false information to learners.”

Through all this, the teachers held fast to the strike action. An interesting report came in from Moyo where the teachers refused take drinks offered by the minister for transport as UNATU executives allegedly threatened PTA paid teachers in Moyo boys Primary School.

The 25th September directive by UNATU to the teachers to go back to school was however good news for all. Reports show that while student turn up was generally low, many parents are ready to send their children back to school tomorrow. And all are hoping that this will mark the end of the seemingly endless cycle of teachers’ salary increase demands, unfulfilled promises by government and subsequent strikes.

- Sept. 27, 2013
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