By David Maclaren Kiiza
Ugandan teachers are the first in East African to be allocated covid 19 financial relief. The Uganda government plans to bail out private teachers with covid-19 financial relief after two years of lockdown.
A cash relief of 100,000/= per person targets 300,000 teachers countrywide.
Private teachers for primary and secondary schools haven’t been working and earning salaries since Covid 19 struck Uganda in March 20202.
About 40% of Uganda’s primary schools and 60% of its secondaries are private institutions, run by individuals, religious organisations, charities and businesses, with no help from the local authorities. Their main source of income is through school fees, which cover all running costs, including teachers’ salaries, which range from $100 to $250 (350,000 to 880,000 Ugandan shillings) a month.
Some private schools offer a high-quality education and good facilities, some are started as business ventures, purely to make money for the owners. But many others are opened and funded by families or villages in areas where government schools are overcrowded or too far away.
When schools closed, parents stopped paying, income dried up and most schools had to reduce or stop paying teachers’ salaries.
The government continued to pay the wages of state school teachers, but its promises to assist private school teachers have gone unfulfilled.
The Economic Policy Research Centre, a thinktank in Kampala, reported in May that 85% of private schools were not paying full teacher salaries due to financial challenges brought on by Covid-19.
The covid 19 relief is provided by Give Directly an international NGO in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development and through a transfer mode of mobile money under MTN & Airtel mobile money.
The program comes at a time when Ministry of Education and Sports is to roll out the presidential pledge of Ush20bn injected in the private schools saving schemes.
According to Mr. Michael Kayemba, the Country Director of Give Directly says the NGO currently operates in 11 countries (Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, DR Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Morocco, Togo, Liberia, Bahamas and the United States of America) with the vast majority in sub Saharan Africa.
Give Directly has been operating in Uganda since 2013 in 12 Districts supporting over 100,000 households but had been suspended by government at a time it was planning to give out cash transfer amounting to $15m to vulnerable Ugandans whose earnings had been affected by the covid 19 lockdown measures.
The NGO will be providing the covid-19 teacher’s cash relief under humanitarian relief / disaster response programs. Give Directly is offering a total package of Ush31bn shillings inclusive of taxes and sending/withdrawal charges. But after meeting President Yoweri Museveni, the suspension was lifted on the NGO’s operations.
Previously, the Uganda government provided Ush100,000 to 500,000 people as Covid19 relief.
Mr. Aggrey Kibende, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Gender, Labor & Social Development, says that only 58,000 teachers benefited from the relief, and are not being targeted.
Eligible of teachers to benefit from this program must not be on government payroll, should be registered and licensed by Ministry of Education & Sports or have proof of submission for registration, should be on payroll for the respective private school and should have mobile money accounts registered in their names.
The teachers will receive this 100,000/= exclusive of taxes and withdrawal charges as in the case of the OPM June / July covid-19 cash program.
Ministry of Education and Sports has developed an online registration system already on their website and developed guidelines for stakeholders like local government officials to effect the program effectively.