There is growing uncertainty and confusion among private school teachers about the proposed teacher’s relief fund. Whereas many teachers are still green about the development, several others are holding endless meetings trying to figure out how they can benefit from the funds, which are meant to offer them relief because of the Covid-19 lockdown.
In his last national address on Covid-19, President Yoweri Museveni promised to inject Shs 2 billion in Private Teacher’s Savings and Credit Cooperative Society. The figure has since been revised upwards to Shs 22 billion.
He directed the Finance Ministry preferably through the Microfinance Support Centre to allocate Shs 20 billion to the same SACCO to allow teachers to access loans, which they will service once schools resume.
Private schools teachers who are estimated to be around 350,000 welcomed the move since they have been struggling to survive. Unlike their counterparts in public education institutions, private school teachers seem to be disorganized without formal structures.
As a result, the teachers have started forming uncoordinated groups based on their geographical locations, work stations and old students’ association to tap into the money.
Josephine Ndagire, a teacher in Masaka notes that she has been seeing colleagues in different schools rushing to form SACCOs even though the ministries of Education and Finance haven’t come up with clear guidelines on how the funds will be handled.
“Everyone is desperate and needs this money. We have had staff saving groups but most of them were not registered and now every group seems to be rushing to form a SACCO. Here in Masaka, the said funds are the talk in all teachers’ circles. SACCOs are being formed, as we wait to see what comes next,” Ndagire said.
The situation isn’t any different in Iganga, Jinja, and Mityana districts. Suzan Alum, a private school teacher in Iganga district notes that private teachers have been so disunited given their working conditions but they have started establishing district associations and SACCOs.
Godlive Baguma, a private school teacher in Kampala says although he would like to benefit from the arrangement and payback when schools resumes, he has failed to assess the right information and is soon giving up.
John Galambi, the former Director of Studies at the defunct Najjera Primary School is puzzled on how he and others who have already lost their jobs can access the said funds.
He notes that he was told that the loans are intended to benefit hitherto active teachers who will be backed up by their respective head teachers or directors that they will be able to service the loan.
Several organizations and groups have also started positioning themselves to manage the funds on behalf of the beneficiaries. Uganda Private Teachers’ Union, which is under the leadership of Juma Mwamula is one of them.
However, the union, whose leadership has started traversing various parts of the country to organise the teachers so that the money is channeled through them, is unknown to most of them.
Mwamula notes that the union is ready to manage the funds and eliminate masqueraders.
Patrick Kaboyo, the National Secretary Federation of Non-State Education Institutions (FENEI) said that the Covid-19 nation committee of directors of private schools and institutions discussed the matter during their meeting with the Education and Finance ministers last week and suggested that the money be channeled through Non-State teachers and directors SACCO.
Kaboyo says that although teachers might form their school-based SACCOs, they may become members of district SACCOs, which will in turn borrow from the national body.
But teachers also feel that school proprietors and managers might be scheming to own the fund. Alum warns that this will also pose challenges given the past relationship between the two groups. “We work for these school owners. We know their motives. Should money be sent to areas where they can control it, they are likely to take the lion’s share,” Alum lamented.