Kampala, Uganda | URN | The National Private Educational Institutions Association has requested government to pay salaries for teachers who have greatly been affected by the closure of schools for at least a year.
Appearing before the Parliamentary committee on National Economy to present a situation report on how the COVID-19 has impacted their sector, the Association members said the schools are struggling to pay workers.
The Association is composed of 18,000 members, 7,211 kindergarten/nursery, 8430 primary schools and 2,196 secondary schools, 161 tertiary institutions and 23 international schools said the schools are struggling to pay workers.
Hasadu Kirabira, in charge at the Association presented up to 11 proposals to revamp the sector among which was the call for government to take over the wage bill and also exempt private schools from direct tax subscriptions and fees like Pay As You Earn, Income Tax and Property Tax for 3 years to enable parents and schools to recover from the economic shock.
He says teachers are now going into other sectors which would now affect the professionalism and the future of the schools. The Association says that COVID-19 has rendered a total of 360,000 members of teaching and non-teaching staff in private schools redundant and potentially jobless of which 59,550 are in Kampala alone.
Kirabira says that for private schools, a staff takes home at least 400,000 monthly without other incentives. If the 360,000 teachers are paid 400,000 for a year, it will cost over 1.7 trillion shillings.
According to Mathias Kibuuka, the treasurer of the Association, if government takes on this role, the schools will see how to reduce fees in a proportionate manner.
Although government pays its teachers, most private schools do not pay their teachers during holidays and now in times of this crisis, the private school teachers are affected.
Kasiano Wadri, the Arua Municipality MP asked the schools if their teachers would allow to be paid the government rate. The private school owners also asked Parliament to enact a law providing for an education recovery fund to capitalize schools to enable them easily meet their financial obligations, purchase the school operational inputs among others.
The private school owners are against the proposal to consider 2020 a dead academic year and instead proposed to adjust the academic year cycle to August and October as second term and November –January as the third term.
Kirabira says that Uganda should learn to live with COVID-19 and therefore should open up.