KAMPALA, UGANDA – Christine Kamukama, 34, teaches at Bweyogerere Primary School in Kampala, Uganda’s capital. Like many teachers, she is disappointed that the national budget, which will be finalized in early September, did not increase teachers’ salaries as much as they had hoped.
“I wish the salaries for us school teachers would be doubled,” says Kamukama, who currently earns 250,000 Uganda shillings ($100) per month.
She says that a significant raise would enable teachers to better do their jobs and to support their families.
“We would be motivated to continue doing our work with enthusiasm,” she says. “I am personally disappointed that our salaries have not been increased. That means we shall continue to struggle having to put food on the table.”
Kamukama says that Ugandan teachers organized a nationwide strike last September over poor pay. They demanded a 100-percent salary increase.
“Striking was the only alternative available for us,” she says.
It lasted only two days, until the government intervened.
“We were threatened with dismissal if we did not go back to teach,” she says. “The president promised us that our salaries would be increased at least by 20 percent in the next financial year, which unfortunately has not been done.”
Kamukama says she participated in the negotiations with Ministry of Education officials, who promised the teachers a 15-percent raise in the 2012-2013 financial year, 20 percent in the following year and 15 percent for the year after.
“The minister of education, Honorable Jessica Alupo, had said that in the financial year 2015-2016, the teachers’ salaries will have been increased by 50 percent,” Kamukama says.
The budget, which officials plan to approve in the coming month, reflects these increments that the minister promised. But Kamukama says this raise is not sufficient to offset the increases in cost of living, which has nearly doubled during the past five years, according to the World Bank and inflation data from the Bank of Uganda. Yet teachers’ salaries have remained the same, making them unable to afford basic necessities.
“Prices for most commodities have increased,” Kamukama says. “Transport from one place to another has been increased. Food prices have been increased, even rent. What someone used to pay five years ago is now double, yet our salaries have not increased. How does the government expect us to provide for our families?”
As Parliament prepares to announce the final budget in the coming weeks, citizens are voicing their praise and concern regarding the plan. They thank the government for increasing civilian groups’ participation in the drafting process and commend a decrease in the tax burden on the poor. At the same time, they criticize the government’s allocation of resources, naming salary raises and infrastructure improvements as their top priorities. The government says that an increase in domestic funding is a positive step toward self-sufficiency for Uganda, though high inflation has led to a decrease in revenue.
Maria Kiwanuka, minister of finance, read the 2012-2013 budget in June. Since then, various committees of parliament