20 October 2011

Springs Alive Community School (SPACS) teachers complain about small pay

Do teachers get a fair fraction of the tuition in salary and/or allowances?
“We are paid Shs. 80,000, that is about $ 30 as a mandatory basic salary &/or allowance, this is besides the electricity, accommodation, water, and health bills that we usually have to meet on our own! It is, definitely, not enough considering that most teachers have families to feed,” one teacher complained.

Some teachers have dreamt of teaching in more than one school to boost their meager salary, but the school policy does not provide for this.It’s been very difficult to increase this money for the teachers given that we hardly have means yet to sustain the school. In many schools the longer one stays there, the more money they get. Pupils here pay a non-mandatory fee of about $10 per term. It’s not mandatory because you find that some pupils have contributed may be maize, beans or cassava to supplement for the teacher’s lunch.

We have had challenges of having to do with ineffective teachers/volunteers because with this kind of insufficient payment you cannot argue one for instance to be hardworking, keep time to mention but a few.

What seems so discouraging to the teachers is that after working hard, any mistake will not go unpunished. For the past three years, we have seen teachers get fired for misconduct, after consensus meeting with parents and school management committees.

At SPACS we have three terms and final examinations done at the end of each term, we also have Primary seven candidates that will be sitting their Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) and will be joining senior secondary schools next year come 2012, this will be our second class of Primary Seven Leavers since SPACS existed.

Schools with Primary seven leavers usually have a centre number that enables the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) work together to facilitate the examinations process but at SPACS we don’t have such centre number and we have requested one school in our neighborhood that has a UNEB centre number to allow out pupils sit their final examinations from there and they have agreed.

With a Primary leaver’s certificate, a student can join any secondary school or vocational institute.
For a teacher to survive here, he or she needs to be committed and does not have to teach anywhere.

On many occasions the Town council (a local authority) has thought we are a profit venture and want us to pay tax for the services being offered at SPACS, we have continually had to write and re-write to them that we are a non-profit making organization doing charity work.

SPACS operates as a community school and is recognized with the District Education Department. We have promised the Town Council that we will be able to supplement to their meager resources when we have means to sustain SPACS but not now.

We hope that if we will get the support needed to make the necessary upgrade for SPACS, then we will be in position to get support for the needy children in our care, be in position to sustain the school, increase the teachers’ salaries and also have the best teachers!

We need your comments, hit the comment button below and leave your comments; thank you very much

19 October 2011


One Wanyana Sarah has four children, all in primary school and were recently sent home for outstanding school fees.
“Business is bad; most people are unable to pay in full and we have nothing left to do!
Wanyana is not alone. Just last week, several schools in the country sent thousands of students home in a bid to force students to pay outstanding tuition. Many parents send their students to school each term after paying only part of the tuition in the hope that they would settle the outstanding balance by mid-term. But as the weeks go by, most find they can’t meet the deadlines.

To make the situation more complex, the schools do not reimburse the students for time lost. It’s only in exceptional cases that remedial lessons are offered. Some students miss anywhere from a week to a month and sometimes a whole term. In the end, both parents and students lose. And this being the third term, students in candidate classes, like Primary Seven (7) who fail to meet their tuition and exam fees on time risk missing out on the exams.
There’s no government policy that could redress such issue, the general understanding however, is that schools would keep the students in class until the end of the term and withhold their reports until the fees is cleared.
In the past schools used to encourage students to keep up to the end of the term but this cannot work given that each school has its own unique realities.
Some teachers opposed to this idea say they have genuine fears. They cite extreme cases in which students move to a different school each term when they fail to settle their tuition.
It is very common among private schools that are just starting. Some students start off by paying for only the first term, default on the subsequent terms until they are sent away.
There is therefore a need to make a radical change in the policy to address several issues. What happens if a student pays fees and chooses to leave before the end of the term? Are they entitled to a refund? Should the head teacher sue the parents who default on tuition?
Indeed the final decision should not disadvantage the student, who is supposed to obtain an education, whenever the tuition is finally paid. There needs to be a framework for school fees, involving the school management committee or board of governors.
“The terms of reference should be clear to students and parents when they start the term for avoidance of grief, to avoid arbitrary decisions.
At Springs Alive community school (SPACS), however, we maintain a more tolerant policy; we don’t send home students for defaulting on fees.
We always remind them [defaulting students] throughout the term and withhold their reports at the end of the term. We do this for the students’ good since we don’t want them to miss class. Sometimes, however, you find that its even useless to withhold the student’s report, observed SPACS Headteacher!

Besides, in a bid to support the needy children at SPACS, we will be looking for means and ways of sustaining SPACS and one of the ways is through collecting fees from the students that can afford.
We are seeking the reader’s opinions and advise as to how we can do this, kindly hit to comment button and leave us your remarks, will be very grateful.