As government struggles to stem the decreasing figures of pupils enrolled in the Universal Primary Education – UPE, there is little that is being done to improve the welfare of the teacher.
An assessment of two primary school teachers on the UPE has shown that teachers were choking under the weight of loans as they try to make ends meet and give their children a meaningful education.
Though both teachers earn 300, 000 shillings per month, more than half of their salary is going to service loans secured to do a side business or educate their children.
The situation teachers are working in is so bad that they feel they are doing voluntary work, a reason they give to discourage their children never to join the teaching profession.
Salim Mulindwa is a primary six teacher at Bat Valley Primary. Besides teaching, he owns a kiosk near Agha Khan Primary School. His wife pitches in by making chapatti and ice to top up their meager salary.
Mulindwa says were it not for his children, he would have quit teaching but he cannot because he wants security for his children. Every month 130,000 shillings is deducted from his salary to service a loan, he does not pay rent but whenever the school does not provide lunch he goes hungry.
When our reporter visited Mulindwa he was short of what to do because his niece is going to miss sitting her final examinations for air cargo clearing and forwarding for the second time.
Another woman teacher Marble Kakooza (not real name) a single mother of seven children in a school in Kampala but declined to be identified is currently servicing two bank loans, one of 2 million shillings and another of 1.5million shillings.
She attributes her loan acquisition to her meager salary that is far below the 500,000 shilling and 1.2million shillings each of her children need for secondary education.
Because of the way teachers are under looked in Uganda there have been times when Marble Kakooza wished she was not a teacher but not to extent that she would refuse to teach English, Mathematics, religious education to her primary two class.
Kakooza says she is used to her children being sent home for school fees or coming home without report adding that it’s affecting their performance.
Kakooza says spends 220,000 shillings to service her loans, she grows her own food and does not pay rent.
Both teachers have to arrive at school before 7am and remain engaged marking books, teaching, keeping order in class until late in the evening when they go home.
Speaking with resignation as if their fate has long been sealed, Mulindwa and Kakooza want government to recognize their service and increase their salaries to at least 1million shillings. The teachers confessed to wearing second hand clothes to appear smart before their classes.
The two teachers cannot wait to retire that even when told to retire tomorrow with full benefits they are willing to quit education and start life elsewhere.
The two teachers are not even thinking of teaching in private primary school because they feel the situation there is worse and private schools have no job security.