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300 Science Teachers in Kigezi Part Ways with UNATU Join UPSTU

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Naris Bikorwomuhangi, the UPSTU National Vice-chairperson, says that when the President proposed the salary increment for science teachers he became happy hoping that UNATU would support the proposal.
Zadock Tumuhimbise, the National Chairperson of UNATU

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About 300 science teachers in the Kigezi sub-region have parted ways with the Uganda National Teachers Union-UNATU and joined the Uganda Professional Science Teachers' Union-UPSTU. A group of science teachers registered Uganda Professional Science Teachers' Union with the Labor Gender and Social Development Ministry in December 2020 following endless disputes with UNATU top officials.

The disagreement stemmed from President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s proposal in 2018 to increase the salaries of science teachers. Museveni proposed to increase the pay of a graduate science teacher from Shillings 600,000 to Shillings 1.9million and diploma holders from Shillings 625,067 to Shillings 1.7M.

He also proposed an increase in the salaries of headteachers with science qualifications from Shillings 1.7million to Shillings 2.5million and their deputies from Shillings 1.5million to Shillings 1.7million.   UNATU top officials didn’t warm up to the proposal and demanded an increase in teacher’s salaries across the board.

Parliament also rejected the proposed increment of salaries for only science teachers, saying it was discriminatory.This sparked rage among science teachers accusing UNATU officials of being jealous about their projected benefit. 

Naris Bikorwomuhangi, the UPSTU National Vice-chairperson, says that when the President proposed the salary increment for science teachers he became happy hoping that UNATU would support the proposal. Bikorwomuhangi, who also doubles as the national coordinator of Tertiary Institutions, says that he was instead shocked when UNATU top officials opposed the proposal.

Bikorwomuhangi says that it is as this time that he and other concerned teachers decided to form another union because UNATU is aimed at benefiting a few individuals.

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Bikorwomuhangi reveals that about 300 science teachers from Kigezi have already registered with UPSTU, adding that the registration exercise is still ongoing even in other regions across the country.

He, however, says that some headteachers who are still stuck to UNATU are frustrating their efforts to register all science teachers cross country by intimidating teachers.  

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Elidad Turinimana, a physics and mathematics teacher at Kanaba secondary school in Kanaba sub-county is Kisoro district is one of the science teachers that have parted ways with UNATU and joined UPSTU. Turinimana says that he expected UNATU top officials to welcome the president’s proposal to increase their pay but he was very angry to see them quarrelling over the proposal.

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Agnes Atuheire, a biology teacher at St. Pauls Secondary school Bukinda in Muhanga town council, Rukiga district says that she has no regrets of denouncing UNATU because it had resorted to fighting science teachers instead of pushing for their well being.  

Atuheire says that UNATU did not consider the fact that once science teachers get a pay rise, it would motivate them more since teaching science subjects is tiresome.

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Zadock Tumuhimbise, the UNATU National Chairperson says that he is aware that some science teachers have decided to UPSTU. Tumuhimbise says that he has no control over science teachers parting ways with UNATU because it is their freedom to join a union of their choice.

He, however, refutes claims that UNATU top leaders have been sabotaging the proposed pay rise for science teachers. According to Tumuhimbise, UNATU top officials are only demanding for a uniform increment of teacher’s payment across the board because they face similar challenges in the performance of their duties.

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Tumuhumbise asks science teachers joining UPSTU to remember that they will continue paying agency fees to UNATU.  Tumuhimbise is optimistic that science teachers who are mindful of where UNATU found teachers will remain.

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This is not the first time a section of science teachers are parting ways with UNATU. In June 2019, a section of science teachers led by Peter Okello broke away from UNATU and formed the National Mathematics and Science Teachers’ Union (NAMASITU).

In September 2019, another group of science teachers led by Vicente Elong and Job Richards Matua also formed the Uganda National Science Teachers' Union (UNASTU).

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