Growing up I always dreamt of becoming either a lawyer or a teacher. The aspiration to become a lawyer was built on the grandeur that the profession came with, the respect that everyone ascribed to lawyers by virtue of their mere existence.
In retrospect, I believe it was all an illusion but that is a story for another day. The community I grew up in formed my desire for a career in education. My mother is a teacher and like many children, I dreamt of living a life akin to hers.
The joy on my mother’s and uncle’s faces when they met a former student was one that I wanted to experience. And as a teacher’s child, the respect accorded to my mother was usually extended to all the members of her household.
With age, I found a new love – Literature in English. I was not only in love with the subject but with the teachers. Literature was an experience. I met Toundi a Houseboy and Frenchman from Cameroon. I admired the wealth, pride and bravado of Mr. Darcy of Pemberly. I wanted to exchange letters with a pen pal like Moses did, and go through the adventures that Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Through those classes, I saw what alcoholism can do through the family of Wamala and the corruption of Archbishop Elton at Sector Three. Through Literature I lived, felt emotions and sentiments through the pages of those books and I travelled through nations, villages and continents.
These last few weeks have been very important for art teachers. Like those teachers of literature that I adore dearly, my mother is also not among the privileged science teachers that my country thinks should spearhead the development of the nation. Those weeks were equally important for me because they highlighted the value that the state ascribes to those that made school worth it for me.
UNATU leaders met the Head of State and later agreed to return to class. These leaders indirectly agreed to the state’s science-led strategy that seeks to prioritize the few and consider others, including the art teachers, later. I believe that the state misunderstands the place of education in the development cycle.
I believe that the state misunderstands the place of education in the development cycle
Education’s biggest ingredient in the development process is the production of human capital. human resource or what we loosely call labour is one of the means of production. From Nursery to University, the pursuit of any working education system is to create a person that can add value to the growth and development of their community and the nation at large.
For education to be holistic, it must be directed towards the body, mind, and soul of the learners. The new curriculum initiated by the state seeks to address the failings of the colonial systems that sought to create clerks for the colonial masters. The fact that the state amplified the need for debate, sports, music and drama in the current curriculum is an admission that the pursuit of sciences is not the main aim of education.
At the formative level of education, all teachers from the different disciplines are important in the creation of the base on which the nation’s human resource will undertake the absorption of further knowledge. Therefore, if we are to create a good working force all teachers must be valued equally as contributors to the holistic growth of this nation’s human resource.
Secondly, the government’s maladministration of the education sector and the teacher’s welfare defeats the World Bank strategy on global education. The policy approach of the World Bank includes having teachers at all levels valued and for classrooms be equipped for learning.
The welfare of teachers as the main facilitators of learning is central in ensuring that teachers are valued and for effective learning. The government must seek to pay all teachers appropriately and competitively, equip them with skills and continuously expose them to training that reinforces their knowledge. A country that does not seek to end its learning poverty is one that lacks the vision and desire to end resource poverty.
A country that does not seek to end its learning poverty is one that lacks the vision and desire to end resource poverty
The entitlement to wages by an employee is a very important right recognized by law. As a chief employer, the government should aspire to pay wages that are commensurate with the work done. Teachers do the same job but at different levels and subjects. Men or women, rural or urban, arts or science, teachers must receive equal pay for the same work done.
A P.7 mathematics teacher in Kampala with a 2-hour class period should receive the same pay as a P.7 teacher of English in Moroto doing the same hours on a hot Wednesday afternoon. Equally the consideration of wages should also take into account the cost of living and human needs.
As someone who grew up in a home headed by an art teacher, I cannot suggest that our needs were different from those of other homesteads. Arts teachers do not have a direct link to God to either get manna for their children or build an ark to house them. Their needs are common to other homes. A motivated teacher is very important in inspiring motivation among the learners.
I Love My Arts Teacher But Does My Government Love Them Equally?
If the government cares about the education sector and development as much as it claims to do, then it must work towards establishing a conducive environment for human capital. We must enact and implement laws that seek to establish a minimum wage and protect all workers from abuse by their employers.
Until the common person realizes that there is a value attached to a state attorney, a doctor or nurse in a government hospital, and a secretary at a district office, we will continue to see more parents refusing to invest in the education of their children. After all, if the government does not take care of the products of education then why bother going through years of school?
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Author: Emmanuel Luwaga
Emmanuel Luwaga is a lawyer, passionate writer, debate coach and adjudicator.