Lecturers and other staff in private universities have asked government to consider bailing them out after being hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic and its effects.
On March 20, government ordered the closure of education institutions as one of the measures to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic but whereas while other businesses have been allowed to resume, education and religious institutions remain closed.
Addressing journalists on Saturday, the Consortium of Private Universities Academic Staff in Uganda(COPUASU)said they have been greatly affected by the pandemic and the resultant lockdown, noting that there is need for an urgent response from government .
“Whereas staff in public universities have been and continue to be taken care of through various aspects of government support, their counterparts in private universities remain reliant on limited and often insufficient resource envelops available to their employers. The majority of these employers solely depend on remittances from students to finance their budgets,”Dr.Alone Kimwise, the COPUASU General Secretary said.
“Absence of students in private universities seriously dents their ability to raise necessary finances to meet their obligations including, but not limited, to remuneration to their staff.”
The staff in private universities noted that this state of affairs has left majority of them in a desperate situation as they struggle for survival.
“Uganda has a total of 53 universities. Of these, 44 are privately owned, employing over 20,000 teaching and non-teaching staff. The Covid-19 outbreak has made it impossible for the private universities to pay salaries to this mass of employees for many months since the onset of the national lockdown.”
According to the group’s umbrella body, as a result of the pandemic and its effects like the lockdown, they can no longer afford basic needs in life and need government to bail them out.
“In view of the foregoing, we hereby request for the following intervention from government through an appropriate and befitting emergency financial bailout for private university staff,”Kimwise said.
The staff from private universities also requested government for the capitalization of their sacco, the Uganda Universities Staff Sacco (UUSSACCO).
“This can create a revolving fund from which every member can access up to five million shillings upon presentation of an eligible and viable economic activity. Individual loans will be disbursed and repaid under terms and conditions initially approved by the Sacco’s membership,” the group said.
They also asked government to consider reopening of universities for work to resume.
In his last national address on Coronavirus, President Museveni promised to inject two billion shillings in the sacco for private teachers but he later directed the Ministry of Finance through the Microfinance Support Center to allocate shs20 billion to allow teachers to access loans.
The Microfinance Support Centre early this week said that private teachers will also benefit from the newly introduced Emyooga presidential initiative on wealth and job creation.
“President Museveni directed that private teachers who have been worst hit by the Coronavirus pandemic be added onto the list of categories to benefit from Emyooga,” Alfred Eboku Ejanu, the head of Credit and Operations at the Microfinance Support Centre said on Wednesday.
“Private teachers right from kindergarten, primary and secondary schools to tertiary institutions will all benefit from the program.”