Most of the Catholic schools are run on charity and money paid by learners in the form of school fees, funds that have been unavailable for more than four months, leaving the church leadership with no other alternatives to keep the payroll running, the Ugandan Cleric has explained.
Even before Fr. Ronald’s directive, the leadership of Uganda’s Masaka Diocese had already notified teachers in its jurisdiction about the inability of the Diocese to continue paying them and urged the Catholic schools’ management to reach out to the affected teachers with relief.
Education institutions in the East African landlocked country have remained closed since March 18, as a move to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far infected at least 1,051 people with 1,014 of them having recovered. The country has not recorded any related death.
The Catholic Church in the country owns over 6,000 education institutions, which offer employment to thousands of people.
The move by the Catholic Bishops to suspend staff remuneration in their schools comes two months after the leadership of the country’s Ministry of Education and Sports directed all private education institutions to pay their employees during the pandemic, a move contested by owners of private schools.
“This is, therefore, to remind you that you are required to pay your employees during the lockdown period in accordance with the Employment Act and as per the agreed employment contracts,” the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Sports, Alex Kakooza wrote in a May 18 circular to Directors, Proprietors and Heads of educational institutions.
In response, private school owners, through their representative, Hasadu Kirabira stated, “Companies have laid off their workers. Some are paying half their salary. The situation is not normal. You can’t come out to dictate. We are struggling to cope. When you bring restrictions, we don’t understand. The government has our money. We have been paying taxes. This is the time to pay us back.”
To cushion the teachers from the impact of job loss, owners of private schools, through their body, the National Private Education Institutions Association (NPEIA), have been urging the government to pay the salaries of the affected teachers for at least a year, particularly if there are no plans to reopen institutions of learning.
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