(Extracts of this letter were published in the New Vision and Daily Monitor Newspapers of 30/10/2012)
DEAR Hon. Maj. (Rtd). Jessica Alupo, a few weeks ago, I travelled to the Northern part of Uganda which trip led me to Kaabong district. While there, I came across a school by names of Kaabong Senior Secondary school.
During my interaction with some of the teachers at the school, I learnt that some of them actually come from as far as Kampala and had opted to go and serve within the region. Just when I was about to commend their undying devotion for the noble profession by going to serve in such a hard to reach area is when I was hit hard by what has now become rather commonplace. Majority of them are not yet on the government payroll despite teaching there for close to a year now.
Hon. Minister, I gather that you visited this school earlier this year and among other issues, you promised to have these teachers on the government payroll by the end of August 2012 which has since passed.
I shared this same issue with the Woman Respective of Kaabong district Hon. Akello Rose Lilly who is aware of the same and has since been very positive in having this resolved as soon as possible.
Education is an integral part of a developing society. For such disadvantaged parts of the country, education ought to be a priority and such staffing needs should be treated as such.
A recent report of findings of a commission of inquiry headed by Justice Ezekiel Muhanguzi which has since been submitted to President Museveni exposes massive rot within the education sector and more specifically the recruitment system.
Over 3,000 teachers have been reported to have forged appointment letters and are suspected to have connived with Public Service officials to include them on the government payroll.
The commissioner of secondary education John Agaba is quoted as saying, “…a number of teachers have always forged appointment, posting, and at times, transfer letters which are in certain cases accepted by the district officials and public service, without crosschecking”.
Basically, instead of teachers now following the official recruitment process of being appointed by the Education Service Commission and then the Ministry of Education and Sports offers them posting instructions which is then followed by such teachers filling payroll access forms with the district personnel officers which are then forwarded to the Ministry of Public Service for payments to be initiated, they have now resorted to jumping the queue to engage the ministry of public service directly. This way of handling such a sensitive process mechanically is unbecoming and unprofessional. We simply can’t operate this way in this day and age.
One then wonders how can teachers teach our next generation with smiles when their hearts are filled with contempt, grief and even regret for ever enrolling for this career? How do you even teach on an empty stomach with thoughts wondering in their brains on where to get the next meal? What about their families? The bills? And there comes the debtors who won’t take any of this. This is absurd and simply too pathetic.
If ghosts can find their way into the payroll while others are busy buying their way into the system, why can’t teachers in such hard to reach areas who have sacrificed a lot to be there be considered now that the budget was passed?
I know you inherited a ministry with it’s challenges but you can make a difference.
Teachers’ welfare is an integral part of this difference.