When the teachers were demanding for their share that was in an agreement, government was busy saying there is no money while the political Opposition clearly knew where they could have got it from. Below is the statement as read and shared with the fourth estate. May be you never heard of it read it here below;
Rt. Rt. Hon. Speaker,
Allow me on the behalf of the opposition to raise the following matters of Public importance to which we need response from the government especially on failing to meet on its commitment;
1. Rt.Hon. Speaker, Ugandan school teachers went on strike on Monday after their demands for a 20% pay increase were rejected, this was after a three (3) month notice and the government had long promised to raise teachers’ salaries, who are among the lowest and the worst-paid public workers in the East African region.
2. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Learning in Uganda’s public schools has been paralysed by a nationwide strike by 160,000 teachers now in its third day to protest the government’s refusal to meet its commitment of a 20% salary increment in FY2013/14.
3. Rt.Hon. Speaker, this commitment to pay 20% salary increment in FY 2013/14 was made to this Parliament by the Minister of Education and Sports; it is captured on the Hansard and by the Government Assurance committee on Wednesday, 31st August 2011
4. Rt. Hon. Speaker, on the 31st August 2011 the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Jessica Alupo stood on the floor of this Parliament and presented a statement on Government efforts to address teachers’ grievances , allow me quote from the statement- “ H.E. the president, on the advice of both the ministry of finance, planning and Economic development and that of Public Service, gave a firm commitment that salaries would be raised across board w.e.f July 2012 and the increment was to be staggered over a 3 year period ( i.e. 15% in FY2012/13, 20% in FY 2013/14 and 15% in the FY 2014/15), with primary teachers getting a 50% increment over the medium term, an increment that is higher than the 30% originally demanded by UNATU”.
5. Rt.Hon. Speaker, this matter of teachers has been on the national agenda for the last three years. Today as a country we have a population of over eleven million children (11,000,000 children) in Public schools and over 160,000 teachers and their families affected by Government’s failure to honour its pledge. The majority of the parents in Uganda take their children to public schools not private schools. This implies the majority of the population is affected. While those who take their children to private schools are rich, those who take children to public schools are not
6. The minister continues to trot out the rather old story that the Shs130 billion required to fund government’s commitment to increase teachers’ salaries by 20 per cent this financial year cannot be found.
7. Rt. Hon. Speaker, the plundering of the economy continues unabated and to fail to meet a commitment because thieves in Government stole Donor money amounts to the highest form of dishonesty especially that the President, Ministers and top civil servants are still living lavishly at the expense of the future of the over eleven million young children of this country.
8. The Human resource development and our children’s future is at risk, even if we forced the teachers back into classes the country faces the crisis. According to UNATU Secretary General, I quote “even if government manages to suppress the teachers’ strike, it won’t manage to suppress a silent go-slow strike which may partly explain the falling standards.”
9. Rt.Hon. Speaker and Hon. Members, there comes a time when silence amounts to betrayal and now is the time. Yes, many of the Ministers, Members of Parliament, top civil servants and the President’s grandchildren don’t go to Public Schools. We recognise the fact that it is a duty of every parents to decide which schools your children go to however we are duty holders to the citizens of this country not to segregate and marginalize some sections by the decision we chose to take or not to take, our actions or inaction will have a serious long term effect on the children of the rich and the poor equally and the security of all the children in the country.
10. Rt. Hon. Speaker and Hon. Members, a few weeks ago one very rich family lost a beloved one to petty thieves in the community- this occurred when his beloved son was waylaid at the gate just as he returned from enjoying in a night club. The young man while on the hospital bed before his death told the relatives that the thieves beat him up while demanding a share of the wealth his parents have stolen. It is sad this young man died innocently. The parents have worked hard to give him a decent future to enjoy but the other disadvantage poor children within the community turned their rage to the young man assuming the wealth the parents had stolen public funds. It is sad that the country has reached this point.
11. Rt. Hon. Speaker, the actions or inactions of the Government towards the teachers of this country is leading to wastage the over 11 million young children and this is recipe for disaster which will not spare even the rich in this country. The children from advantaged families could be innocent victims who will have to fall victims of our inactions. We can save this country!
12. Rt.Hon. Speaker, which rich family would love to lose a beloved one to thugs we would have groomed because we didn’t care about them while they were in school? Will the children of the advantaged families live among the disadvantaged one and feel secure?
13. Rt. Hon. Speaker, as an institution charged with the duty to make laws on any matter for the peace, order, development and good governance of Uganda- a national Budget for the FY 2013/14 without the 20% teachers’ salary increment does not promote the development of a vital Human resources for sustainable development of Uganda. We cannot surrender 11million young Ugandans to a dark future and keep burying our heads in the sand.
14. Rt. Hon. Speaker, for how long shall we continue to have ministers make empty promises to the workers of this country? Are we interested in having quality Public education in this country? How can you build the nation yet forget about the 11.2 million children of this country?
15. Rt. Hon. Speaker, given the current crisis as opposition we demand that government owns up and accepts responsible for not meeting its commitment and grant a tax holiday to teachers this financial year.
16. Rt. Hon. Speaker, we further call on the president to take political responsibility and cut the size of the cabinet by half in order to reduce on the Public Administration Expenditure this will release enough resources for better pay to teachers, medical workers, police and all civil servants in this country. We cannot continue pretending as the cost of living increases yet the salary has remained stagnant.
17. Rt. Hon. Speaker, state house budget was increased from 60bn to 230bn that is 4 times. If state house can get increment why not education for teachers. To develop a country you need education, education, education. Another is defence under classified expeditions was increased from 127bn to 300bn. on what? Wars are no more in Uganda. This implies more funds are available for investment in education sector.
18. Rt.Hon. Speaker and Colleagues, the future of the young children in Public schools is threatened just as the sustainable development and good governance of Uganda. We cannot remain silent while we witness the death of Public education. As a country we must take tough decisions for the present and future generations.
19. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Parliament is responsible for appropriation not the president. Let us appropriate for 20% salary increase and let government not pay.
20. Rt. Hon. Speaker, today Ugandans must know who represents their interests and those who represent those of an individual- the president.
Nathan Nandala- Mafabi, MP
LEADER of OPPOSITION
18th September, 2013