Clerics rally teachers to return to their profession and save the nation

ACHOLI – Religious leaders in Acholi sub-region under their umbrella group – Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) have called on teachers who abandoned their teaching profession for other income generating activities during the COVID-19 pandemic to return and save the nation.

For about two years, teachers in Uganda were rendered jobless after schools were closed by the government to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

Speaking in an interview with our reporter, Bishop James Ochan, of the National Fellowship of Born-again and Pentecostal churches for Acholi sub-region said, the mere fact that teachers were not practicing their profession resulted into thousands of teenage pregnancies, child marriages, drug abuse, lack of respect for the societies among others.

Ochan further said, teachers play a huge role in shaping the moral direction of the country and with schools re-opening next week, they should return to bring order and sanity and save the future of the nation.

“What we have experienced in the last two years that our children have been home clearly shows that parents don’t do much as far as shaping the future of our children. We need teachers if our country is to be in order and develop. So, please teachers, return to your classes and save the nation,” said Bishop Ochan.

In Gulu City, more than 100 redundant teachers, joined the boda-boda cycling business in order to fend for their families.

According to Amuru education authorities, more than 130 teachers joined boda-boda business while others, especially along the South Sudan border joined the cross-border business.

Derrick Otim, a teacher in Amuru district who declined to mention the school he is attached to says, he is still contemplating whether to return to class given the little pay. Otim says, as a boda-boda cyclist, he earns at least Shs 25,000 from which he can daily save and cater for his family.

“I have been earning at least Shs25,000 daily from my boda-boda business yet I earn a monthly salary of Shs 400,000. If I chose to go back to class, it would take me time to re-adjust since I joined the boda-boda business. I will still have to think about it though,” Otim said.

Otim further said, incase he returns to class, he might consider teaching as a part time job since he needs money to sustain his family.

Steven Ojara, another teacher in Gulu City who opened a retail shop in Bar dege Layibi City division says, he will return to class but also keep his side business to supplement his earnings.

Rt Rev Godfrey Loum, the Bishop of the Diocese of Northern Uganda said, the government should use the lessons learnt to consider listening to the pending demands of teachers on salary increments.

For years, the teachers body, Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) has been pleading with the government for increment of teachers’ salaries. Currently, the government’s focus is to improve salaries of science teachers.

Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the State Minister for Primary Education recently warned teachers who will not report to school in two weeks of school reopening that they will be replaced since they are no longer interested in their profession.

Recently, the government in partnership with Give Directly announced a Shs 23 billion support to private teachers who have been greatly affected by the lockdown.

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