Wednesday, September 14th, 2011
At the end of July 2011, the Ugandan National Teachers Union (UNATU) conducted a two day, sit down strike. Earlier this month, prior to the opening of Term III, another teachers‟ strike began.
Numerous attempts to resolve this strike have been attempted. President Museveni has met with officials of the Ugandan National Teachers Union (UNATU), who represent the teachers. Parliament also has attempted to intervene. Threats, designed to force teachers back into the classroom, have been issued by the Minister of Education and Sports, the Prime Minister, and numerous Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), DEOs, and GISOs. Even teachers‟ subordinate class monitors have been used as tools to break the strike.
It is true that some teachers have taught for three years without pay. Others have had their names deleted from their institution‟s payrolls altogether. Bitterness on teachers‟ behalves remains and has been fueled by government officials‟ utterances. It is also true that teachers are among the poorest paid professionals in Uganda and, in many instances, teachers are not accorded the respect which they deserve. As well, teacher‟s unique code of conduct, which insists that "teachers must not go on strike under any circumstances," has been used to mute their voices and silence any valid complaints.
As an organization with longstanding, direct experience within the local community and one which continues to work for peace on the ground in the region, ARLPI feels that certain concessions must be given to teachers. We would like to respond by highlighting some of the following issues. We offer these alternatives in the spirit of peace and development and it is our sincere hope that all actors interested in this dispute will work together to positively affect its outcome.
First, we would like to take this opportunity to thank teachers for the important work that they are doing in helping the children of this country. We acknowledge that your claims are genuine and long overdue. However, given the current timing (with PLE, UCE, UACE and end of the year examinations all being due), we appeal to you to continue to teach our children.
We also appeal to parliament to take into consideration the teachers‟ concerns and make them law. As well, we appeal to you to honor all the various promises made in regards to increasing teachers‟ wages.
Furthermore, UNATU must continue to demand and negotiate teachers‟ pay raises while, at the same time, keeping in mind the interests of Uganda‟s children.
The Ugandan government‟s current approach of using threats, intimidations, state machineries and class monitors to monitor teachers is both inappropriate and counterproductive. Let the Ministry of Education and Sports be in charge of education in this country. Most importantly, respect the appointments and agreements made to this nation‟s teachers.
Not all responsibility lies on the shoulders of the teachers or the government. Parents as well must be encouraged to support their children‟s education.
Finally, we appeal to international agencies like the World Bank to assist Ugandan teachers in any way that they can.
Once again, we commend teachers for the hard work that they are doing, may God bless you all.
„For God and Our Country‟ and „Together for Peace‟
+Rt. Rev. Johnson Gakumba
(Chairman-ARLPI, Bishop Diocese of Northern Uganda)
On behalf of:
+Sheik Altai Musa Khalil (the Kadi Acholi Muslim District) - Vice Chairman ARLPI
+Archbishop John Baptist Odama (Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, Archbishop of Gulu) – Member ARLPI
+Fr. Julius Orach (the Dean of Orthodox)-Member ARLPI
+Rt. Rev. Benjamin Ojwang (Bishop of Kitgum Diocese)- Member ARLPI
+Rt. Rev. Nelson Onono Onweng (The retired Bishop diocese of Northern Uganda)-Member ARLPI
+Rt. Macleod Baker Ochola II (The retired Bishop of Kitgum diocese)-Member ARLPI
+Pr. Lisa David (SDA Resident pastor Gulu)
+Pr. Patrick Okecha (Overseer Born Faith Federation)