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Ugandan Teachers Opt for Business as Schools Remained Closed

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The Uganda Private Teachers’ Union has raised concerns over how its members have been coping without pay during the pandemic period.

Schools in Uganda have been closed since March, due to the virus. And while salaries for government schools’ teachers have not stopped coming, an estimate of about 150,000 teachers in private schools have not been paid for months.

However, with no help coming from the government, most teachers have delved into other businesses, including selling street food, cleaning jobs or offer their services as home tutors.

Brenda Kemugisha, a Ugandan School teacher, started a small business to survive, by selling children’s clothes and shoes.

She had been living on her teaching job salary, not until the emergence of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Brenda in her statement revealed that, ‘After March, the directors said they couldn’t manage to do other payments so we should look for means of survival.’

Fortunately for her, she had started her shoes and wears business just a few months before schools were shut down. So she invested her savings and expanded the business, making it her main source of income during the pandemic period.

Brenda made known her intent to return to her teaching profession when schools reopen.

She said, ‘I love children, I have passion for children so I will go back and teach.’

‘But I know I will not give it more time the way I used to because even my business needs me. So, I will give some time to the school and some time to the business.’

Official records from 2017 shows that, more than 14,000 private schools in Uganda are thought to have opened since those figures were calculated, and they employ an estimate of 150,000 teachers.

But unfortunately, the union also reports cases where its members have turned to prostitution and some have committed suicide due to their desperate situation.

Juma Mwamula, General Secretary of Uganda Private Teachers’ Union says, ‘The government of Uganda sanctioned a food relief when COVID hit and people were in lockdown but very distinctly his Excellency the president of Uganda shared that people who are salaried will not be part of the people to benefit from that food relief. And by assumption he categorically even mentioned teachers.’

‘I think he had been hoodwinked to imagine that even the teachers in private schools continue to receive salaries as their counterparts in the government schools.’

Adenike Omosanya

Photo Credit: CTGN

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