Scores of teachers in government schools in Masaka district are yet to report back a day to the much-anticipated reopening. According to the Ministry of Education and Sports program, all schools will resume on Monday next week after the prolonged lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of the preparations for the resumption of studies, headteachers and education authorities have been engaged in a series of activities that include general inspection, reorienting of teachers, and renovation works.
However, according to the status report by the Masaka City Education department, some teachers on the government payroll have not yet reported back to their duty stations. As a result, the affected missed the orientation on the abridged teaching method rolled out by the Ministry of Education.
Although it is not being specific on the number of teachers who are still away, the report indicates that all headteachers were earlier instructed to ask their workforce to report to their respective workstations without fail.
Steven Asiimwe, the Masaka City Resident Commission, who was part of the school inspection team, says that the absentee teachers are keeping them in doubt of whether they will actually return when the schools reopen on Monday.
He says that they are afraid such teachers may impede the learning process when schools reopen without the required workforce to ready offer the services in an appropriate manner.
Meanwhile, to reduce congestion of learners as they return to school on Monday, Asiimwe explains that they have advised headteachers and Board of Governors to jointly work out a method that adjusts the students reporting dates such that all of them don’t come back at once.
Francis Nsubuga, the Chairperson of Uganda National Teachers Union-UNATU Masaka branch, suspects that some of the teachers could have given up on the profession after venturing into alternative income-generating activities during the lockdown.
He advises the headteachers to contact the teachers individually and find ways of convincing them to return. Notably, the 2013 Ministry of Education and Sports sector review report established that 60% of government primary teachers were not satisfied with their work conditions and remuneration and that only 16% wished to remain in the classroom within the next two years.
The report observed the need for concerted efforts to address the challenges causing frustration to teachers.