Several teachers in Kampala are unhappy with a proposal by the Ministry of Education to tag their salaries to the number of days they work.
On Monday, Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire the Minister for Education and Sports said the teachers' payroll is being reviewed so that they are only remunerated for days worked. She said this would stop persistent teacher absenteeism.
The teachers say this is not an effective way to ensure their performance.
Stephen Legesi, headmaster of Bat Valley Primary School, says pegging salary to the number of days worked will discourage new teachers from joining the profession. He says it will likely damage the reputation of a field widely believed to be poor paying.
Primary school teachers in Uganda earn an average of 260,000 shillings a month.
Legesi admits that teacher absenteeism is a problem in Uganda. He suggests that government should strictly enforce the already existing regulations against absenteeism by suspending the culprits.
Daniel Mwanje, a Primary Four teacher at Bat Valley, says if teachers' salaries are pegged on attendance, similar measures should be taken against other civil servants in the education sector. He says school inspectors are major offenders in this matter.
Like Legesi, Mwanje wants the Ministry of Education to consider other options to improve teacher performance. He says he lives in Namasuba on Entebbe Road and spends at least 25,000 shillings on transport everyday. This incurs a big cut to his monthly salary.
Mwanje says issues like accommodation and transport are reasons for teacher absenteeism and must be dealt with.
However the Kampala City Council Director of Education, Anne Galiwango, says this is no excuse. She says once teachers receive letters of appointment, they commit themselves to full service to their schools.
Galiwango says absenteeism isn't as common in Kampala as it is in the rest of the country. She attributes this to strict punitive measures taken against offenders.
Schools under the KCC office are required to suspend absent teachers for a week or to withhold their salaries.
The Uganda National Teachers Union has remained silent amidst this debate. The Union's General Secretary, Teopista Birungi Mayanja, says no official comment will be made until the policy is implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sports.