Teaching is the profession that determines the fate and soundness of all sectors in an economy. I, since my childhood, was inspired to become a teacher by the critical contribution of teachers in society then.
Many teachers continue to significantly exhibit outstanding performances in their new career choices when they quit teaching. Presidents; Mao Zedong of China, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, and Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi are examples of exceptional teachers who turned successful politicians yet many still thrive in various sectors of economies.
Economic remuneration determines whether teachers remain in the profession or quit early. Countries across the world pay teachers basing on the economic value they attach to the teaching profession. The world’s top-paying countries are Switzerland paying a high school teacher; $6,457 per month, Germany; $5,449 and Singapore; $4,187. South Africa ranks the highest on the continent and 17th in the global index; paying a median salary for both primary and secondary teachers of 3,372,000/= (15,600 Rands) per month.
Educators in Uganda are among the worst paid in the world. A teacher on government payroll earns; at least 470,000/= primary, 610,000/= secondary school diploma holder and 810,000/= to 1, 410,000/= for degree holder.
In Eastern Uganda, private schools pay teachers an average of about 300,000/= and 400,000/= for primary and secondary teachers respectively. Some Secondary schools pay lower salaries than primary schools and maddeningly, many private universities pay their master degree holders less than some secondary schools in Uganda.
Uganda’s cost of living that averagely lies at 31.51% and 3.94% inflation rate with 15.38% purchasing power, continue to constipate teacher salaries; depleting the marginal propensity to save. A teacher working in the capital Kampala needs at least 1,725, 986/= ($463), and 1,200,000/= for countryside towns to meet recurrent family monthly expenses.
It’s noteworthy that, about 98% of students who enroll for teacher training come from underprivileged families with a bulk of inherent family responsibilities. Due to contemptible pay, teachers perennially wallow in a vicious circle of poverty and its venomous effects since their marginal propensity to consume is higher than their quid pro quo. Thus, a teacher works for a stint of more than 15 years to afford very basic minimum standards of living.
Accordingly, many teachers are often tempted to secure loans from commercial banks with high-interest rates to construct a small residential house and pay for their children’s education; a decision that exacerbates pressure causing depression among educators.
Since the COVID-19 lockdown, teachers have witnessed indifferent response from Government and private employers; some private academic institutions cut off communication with their staff since the lockdown was imposed on the education system. Hence, those who will succeed in finding alternative survival avenues are most likely to quit the profession forever.
Uganda’s educators need to be psychologically prepared that schools may not reopen this year and therefore, they should indispensably design survival and sustainable strategies for their families. This requires self-assessment and re-discovery of personal strengths, capacity, and viability; either within or outside the profession. Poultry raring, farming, soap making, politics, merchandise are among the options worth delving upon and adoption in the extant plethora exigency for sustainable development.
Teachers do not save money because they cannot simply afford it since they operate in negatives. Hence, employers should consider expanding and enhancing welfare packages for teachers. The government of Uganda should include academic institutions in the COVID-19 stimulus packages appropriation plan inform of grants and soft loans as well as enforcing education policies on reward systems. An inclusive national teachers’ SACCO uniting all teachers across education levels should be established and empowered to address teacher financial needs. Conclusively, educators should know that,hardest moments of life, leave us stronger and resilient. We get a chance to reflect, rethink, and redesign our actions for a better tomorrow.Use the lockdown recess to determine your next step.
The author Obilan Abubakar is a Ph.D. in education Fellow in IUIU