June 16, 2013

Teachers welcome UGX 5 Billion Credit Society Allocation

Bosco Lubega, a director of studies at Kololo Secondary School and member of Uganda National Teacher’s Union-UNATU is one of those who have welcomed the government gesture.
The 5 billion shillings allocated by government to the teachers in the next financial year budget to form a Savings and Credits Cooperative Organization-SAACO has generated mixed reactions.  While presenting the budget for the 2013/2014 financial year on Thursday this week, Maria Kiwanuka, the Minister of finance said government had allocated 5 billion shillings for the establishment of the teacher’s SACCO. She said the decision is aimed at helping teachers to access soft loans so as to set up income generating activities to supplement their incomes.

Some teachers interviewed by redpepper have welcomed the gesture by government while others are skeptical. Bosco Lubega, a director of studies at Kololo Secondary School and member of Uganda National Teacher’s Union-UNATU is one of those who have welcomed the government gesture. He explains that that once teachers plan well for the money, it will benefit them more compared to the salary increase they have been clamoring for. Lubega however, suggests that the money be invested in a big project by UNATU to enable each teacher to benefit instead of giving it distributing it out in small loans.

But Ronald Nkojjo, the Head of the physics department at the same school is not convinced government will honor its promise to release the money. He says that government promised teachers a 30 percent pay rise, but nothing was mentioned in the budget. Nkojjo also thinks the 5billion shillings allocation is too little compared to the number of teachers in Government Schools. Zaccheus Kafeero, a teacher at Mengo Secondary school would rather have a salary increment than the money from the SACCO, which he described as peanuts. Another teacher from the same school, who declined to be named, says government is using the SACCO money to divert the teachers from pushing for a pay rise.

He is also worried that the money could generate tension between the teachers and UNATO officials. William Edward Ssettuba, a career advisor at Mengo Secondary School says that if the money is to serve the sole purpose for which it has been allocated it should only be loaned to teachers with running projects.  However, it is not yet clear how and when government disburse the money to the teachers. An Official at UNATU who declined to be named declined to comment on the money saying they have not yet come up with a mechanism for disbursing the money and consulted the teachers.

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