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Teachers Abscond Over Delayed Hardship Allowances

The Ministry of Education and Sports introduced the special motivational incentive in 2012, as a measure to eliminate rampant absenteeism of teachers serving in hard-to-reach areas and attract and retain more teachers in such areas. Four years later, however, the initiative has failed to bear fruits in the district. Last month, more than 50 teachers in several primary schools in Ntoroko abandoned the schools, leaving pupils stranded.

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Inconsistent payment of the modest hardship allowance to primary school teachers living and working in remote areas has forced many in Ntoroko district to abandon work. 

The Ministry of Education and Sports introduced the special motivational incentive in 2012, as a measure to eliminate rampant absenteeism of teachers serving in hard-to-reach areas and attract and retain more teachers in such areas.

The allowance is calculated at 30 per cent of a teacher's basic monthly pay.  

Four years later, however, the initiative has failed to bear fruits in the district. Last month, more than 50 teachers in several primary schools in Ntoroko abandoned the schools, leaving pupils stranded.

The most affected schools are Karugutu, Itojo, Rwebisengo, Rwangara and Kamuhingi. 

Ronald Mwesigwa, the acting Ntoroko district education officer, says that there is inconsistency in payments. According to Mwesigwa, the teachers are supposed to receive the allowance each month but they were last paid six months ago.

He explains that the absence of teachers has left pupils missing lessons, which affects their performance in national examinations. 

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At Karugutu Primary School, seven teachers who were benefiting from the hardship allowance abandoned the school. Moses Ainebyoona, the deputy head teacher says that the teachers were incurring high transport costs to school using their meagre earnings.  

Ainebyoona says the departure of the teachers has affected completion of the syllabus.

Rachel Kobusinge, one of the teachers says that she could not continue teaching under poor conditions. She explains that she was spending 7,000 shillings daily on transport to and from school and yet earning a meagre salary 270,000 shillings.

Kobusinge adds that the hardship allowance is supposed to motivate the teachers to report for duty every day, but it's not the case in Ntoroko.

Steven Mugisa, the Ntoroko district inspector of schools, says that they have written to the Ministry of Education about the inconsistency to pay the teachers.

Mugisa says the teachers have been told to return to work as the matter is being addressed by the authorities.  

Shortage of teachers is one of the challenges facing schools in Ntoroko district. Last year the office of the district Inspector of Schools indicated in a report that some classes have only one lesson per day or even none.

The report also attributed the poor performance in Primary Leaving Examinations-PLE to shortage and absenteeism of teachers.

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