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Teacher’s Strike: Gov’t Schools in Buikwe Merge Classes for Music Lessons

Olivia Namukasa, the head teacher of Kasoga Primary School has appealed to the government to resolve the dispute immediately to help learners in public schools recover from the wasted time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Several primary schools in Buikwe district have decided to merge learners in the upper classes to teach them music amidst the Uganda National Teacher's Union-UNATU nationwide-led strike. Some of the schools visited by URN have merged learners in primary seven, six, and five to attend music lessons.

The remaining learners have been asked to remain home awaiting further instructions from UNATU. Last week, teachers under UNATU laid down their tools to compel the government to give them equitable pay across the board. It came after the government decided to increase the pay of science teachers across various levels of education. 

The government led by the president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, and the first lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Kataha Museveni met the top UNATU officials to convenience them to call off the strike in vain. 

As a result, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Service, Catherine Bitarakwate Musingwiire directed the striking teachers to return to class by Monday this week or risk being scrapped off the payroll in vain.

In Buikwe, the schools have decided to engage the few available learners through music lessons. Justine Mboka, a senior teacher at St. Kizito primary school in Lugazi Municipality, says that only music teachers paid through contributions from the Parents, and Teachers Association, are able to come to school.

She reveals that since the strike started, they don't have enough manpower to manage classes and they instructed pupils in other classes to remain at home.

A few schools in the district, which are conducting lessons for primary seven pupils are using private teachers paid through PTA. At Lugazi East, pupils in primary six and five attend music classes and conduct revision by themselves.

Olivia Namukasa, the head teacher of Kasoga Primary School has appealed to the government to resolve the dispute immediately to help learners in public schools recover from the wasted time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The situation is not different in secondary schools where the majority of the art teachers have stayed away. Only a few science teachers and those paid by PTAs are conducting lessons. Hillary Bwire, the Buikwe UNATU Chairperson, says that schools are still up to the cause despite the threats from the government and district inspectors of schools.

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Stephen Sserubula, the Lugazi Municipal Member of Parliament is worried about the future of learners in government schools if the situation continues like this.

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Buikwe School Inspector of school, Chodre Manana says the situation is out of their hands since teachers have decided to stay away. He notes that they have made inspections and submitted the reports to the relevant authorities.

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