The Minister of Education and Sports Janet Museveni has given an assurance to private school teachers that they will soon receive the 22 billion shillings grant promised to their SACCO by the President to assist them overcome challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
Museveni, in one of his COVID-19 addresses to the nation promised to inject 2 billion shillings in private school teachers’ SACCO. He later directed the Ministry of Finance preferably through Microfinance Support Centre to allocate 20 billion shillings to the same SACCO to allow teachers access loans which they will service once schools resume.
Speaking at the commemorations of World Teachers’ Day at State House Entebbe on Tuesday, the Education Minister and First Lady Janet Museveni said the closure of schools in March to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected hundreds of thousands of private school teachers.
“The closure of education institutions in March did not only affect the 15 million learners but negatively impacted the lives our teachers. Our teachers from Government schools continued to receive their salaries by God’s grace and we are grateful to Government for this. Unfortunately, the 350,000 teachers from our private schools were left without any means of livelihoods since then and many of them have had to do all sorts of jobs for survival,” she said.
Mrs Museveni applauded the President for the grant of 22 billion shillings extended to the teachers through Microfinance Support Centre in the COVID-19 period and added that although it has not been easy for teachers to access the money, the Education Ministry is in discussions with relevant authorities to ensure that the beneficiaries get their money.
“I am aware that it has not been easy for teachers to access this money (22 billion shillings). However, we have discussed this with the Ministry of Finance, the Microfinance Support Centre together with the leadership of the teachers from private institutions and UNATU (Uganda National Teachers Union). We believe that this is going to be history because that money will finally reach the teachers,” she said.
With the guidance of the President and in consultation with the Ministry of Finance and teachers’ leadership, Mrs Museveni noted that Government has put in place some measures to support teachers. They include among others; Government agreeing to include the education sector under the categories to borrow from recently capitalized Uganda Development Bank (UDB) giving private school owners the opportunity to access long term finance loans only for infrastructure development.
“NSSF waved off the contribution of employees and employers to NSSF for the specific period given that the institutions were not earning. Those with outstanding loans were advised to approach the commercial banks to reschedule their loans and Central Bank accordingly issued a guideline to this effect, and no additional interest is to be charged on the reschedule monthly loan repayments.”
When education institutions were closed in March in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education developed the education sector COVID-19 response plan which focuses on three main objectives that include; continuity of learning during the closure of education institutions, prepare for resumption of schools once schools reopen and to build the sector’s capacity for resilience and response to emergencies in the post COVID-19 period.
To facilitate continuity of learning, Government printed and distributed home study materials and embarked on an exercise to enhance home school by procuring 9 million radio sets for all households.
“I am happy to report that this procurement is in advanced stages,” said Mrs Museveni.
As education institutions reopen for only candidate classes on 15th October 2020, Mrs Museveni reported that the Education Ministry has finalized preparations of learning materials for learners from other classes who will remain at home.
“The Ministry has finalized preparations of learning materials that will be used by those learners remaining at home for now and we should be able to keep them engaged as well as we prepare the candidates to complete their cycle of education at various levels,” she said.
Meanwhile, responding to a concern raised by UNATU Secretary General Philbert Baguma as to whether there are funds to feed learners at school, Mrs Museveni said, it will be impossible.
“The answer is no. But we are talking to those schools (boarding schools) which feed the children, we are saying that they should deliberately try to boost the diet with affordable additional foods. That is something that can be done if they really look out for what is nutritious and affordable and add to the diet that they feed the children in boarding schools,” she said.