Wage disparities undermine the governance of the education system

The 2009 Global Monitoring Report considers governance as ‘power relations’, ‘formal and informal processes of policy formulation and resource allocation’, ‘decision-making processes’ and mechanisms for holding governments responsible.

Education governance largely depends on strong institutional capacity to develop and implement evidence-based education policies and programs that are well integrated into broader national development strategies, set goals, standards and incentives and holding key actors accountable (Lewis & Peterson 2009).

The Ugandan education system has been in place since the early 1960s. It has been governed by the legal framework at different levels. The Education Act 2008 is one of the legal frameworks that shapes the Ugandan education system by dealing with pre-primary, primary and post-primary.

The education system includes seven years of primary education. It is followed by a six-year secondary cycle (four in lower secondary and two in upper secondary) before moving on to university education for three to five years depending on the length of the course offered.

After successfully completing primary school, learners can follow either secondary education; or take a six-month to three-year course at technical and vocational trade institutions.

Those who complete the Uganda Certificate of Education have four possible career paths: they can either obtain an Advanced Certificate of Education, take a two-year advanced crafts course at technical institutes, or take a primary education program of two-year level III, or join one of the government departments. programs such as agriculture, health, veterinary medicine and cooperatives. After obtaining the higher education certificate, students can either: enter university; join a two-year course leading to an Ordinary Teacher Education Diploma, Technical Education; business studies or integrate departmental programs.

As we celebrate the great strides made by the Ministry of Education and Sports in the education sector in Uganda such as the new lower secondary curriculum, the construction of starter schools, the introduction TVET and other institutions, the 300% increase in science teacher salaries from July 2022 has created a huge disparity among teachers in the functioning of classroom and school activities.

One wonders if this strategy has been well thought out and planned so that it is well synchronized in the education system because the shortfalls have already appeared before it was deployed where some science teachers did not receive the salaries and in other cases the professors of arts have collected these salaries on their accounts “accidentally”.

Teachers and their supervisors who have the same qualifications earn differently. The upgrade has raised the earnings of freshly graduated science teachers from Shs1m to Shs4m per month, while their more experienced counterparts will get Shs4.25m from Shs1.7m. Headteachers and their deputies held steady at Shs2.3m and Shs1.7m respectively.

Those with science qualifications will now earn 2.63 million shillings and 2.033 million shillings respectively if allowances are taken into account. . Nevertheless, the discriminatory salary increase demoralized several art teachers and caused insubordination.

It has been noted that Arts teachers involved in school management at different levels say that service teachers, club leaders feel deflated to perform their duties because they are demotivated.

This has compromised the governance of the education system since the dynamics of assigning roles and responsibilities to carry out educational policies and programs are challenged by the fact that teachers earn more than their supervisor, such as school inspectors . District education officers who struggle to fulfill their oversight role.

Having a pay disparity is not a solution and using this approach as a mask for improving student performance in science subjects is not a solution but rather a problem in the near future when we will have more scientists and less art teachers and the “ball will roll again”.

I believe it is necessary to focus resources on improving the quality and accessibility of science education by equipping laboratories, good infrastructure, cleaning up the teachers’ payroll by eliminating “teachers ghosts”, but even so, this should not be done at the expense of art teachers.

Wage disparity has never been a good phenomenon but will rather eat away at the gains made so far in the education sector and undermine the governance of the education system.