KAMPALA: President Yoweri Museveni has postponed the salary increment for science teachers to the 2019/2020 financial year after the NRM Parliamentary Caucus stuck to their guns that the pay rise should also include arts teachers.
Parliament’s Education Committee, about two weeks ago, threw out government’s request that sought to increase the teachers’ salaries from Shs600,000 to Shs1.9m (for graduate science teachers) and Shs1.7m for diploma holders. The MPs reasoned that the proposal was discriminatory and recommended that the increment also be extended to arts teachers.
However, this is said to have infuriated the President, whose stance has been that the increment is meant to stave off the rampant brain drain of science teachers and other scientists. He has even often argued that arts teachers are easy to replace.
This prompted him to summon the NRM MPs, who are the majority in the House, to a meeting at State House Entebbe on Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to convince them to change their stance.
Sources who attended the meeting told PML Daily that the President failed to convince the legislators to change their stance.
Mr Museveni is said to have spent over two years explaining to the MPs how government needs to prioritize sciences over arts disciplines. He is reported to have given examples of countries like Germany and Japan that have succeeded because of this strategy.
Besides, sources added, the President explained that the country does not enough money for the uninform salary increment. He is said to have given examples of Soroti Flying School and other public facilities, which need to be refurbished and that paying more money to arts teachers will see these stall.
However, the MPs are said to have stuck to their guns, explaining to the President that increasing pay for science teachers only contradicts government’s values on equity and non-discrimination.
After failing to reach a consensus, sources said, the President agreed to defer the increment to 2019/2020 financial year to allow more room for debate.
NRM Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa was not available for a comment on the matter but NRM Caucus Vice Chairperson Solomon Silwany confirmed that the increment was differed to the 2019/2020 financial year following the disagreement.
The news is likely to annoy the science teachers but will also come as victory to arts teachers and their advocates.
Teachers under their umbrella body, the Ugandan National Teachers Union, have said the selective salary increment is unfair and is likely to lead the country into an education crisis.
Ms Margaret Rwabushaija, the workers representative in Parliament and the former UNATU chairperson, has condemned the pay raise, calling it a complete disaster, which must be rejected.
“That is selective and creates a social divide and is extremely unfair. What increment is that? Did people just wake up and just give salaries according to what they think? What criteria did they use? What are the scales for? It is unfair and I condemn it in the strongest terms,” she said.