Give Us Food, Rent & Other Basic Needs Not Loans – Private Teachers Uncertain About Proposed Scheme

Private school teachers have expressed uncertainty about the funding availed by the government through the Microfinance Support Centre, to help them overcome the challenges they are facing amidst the ongoing closure of schools.

The government has availed 22 billion Shillings to be injected in several Savings and Credit Cooperatives across the country to enable teachers to invest in income-generating activates. The money will be given out in form loans at an interest rate of not more than 12 per cent per annum.

However, many teachers are sceptical that the proposed loan scheme might not benefit them because many of them are struggling to meet basic needs. Gyaviira Tamale, a mathematics teacher, notes that the government has told them to use the money and establish income-generating activities.

But, to him, this is not practical because it is difficult to start up a business for the first time using a loan and expect results. Tamale adds that if teachers are to start a business, much of the money might end up in wasted as many teachers have no skills on how to run businesses.

John Galambi, the former Director of Studies at the defunct Najjeera Primary School notes with the number of challenges they are facing, loans might just worsen their stress. He notes that currently, their priority is focusing on their daily survival which implies that chances of investing the money upon getting it are very

“We want food, rent, and other basic needs. We thought that the government will be giving out grants to bail us out. Of course, most of us will go after the loans but repaying will be another tug of war and that alone will increase stress on them,” says Galambi.

Khassim Kinobe, a teacher at KY Primary School in Masaka City, notes that although teachers are in dire need of money, loans will be the last option for them.

But Denis Kitawulwa, a history teacher from Wakiso has a different view. To him, the loan will come in handy to some teachers who have already struggling to set up businesses to sustain life and find a purpose given the uncertainties surrounding the reopening of schools.

Kitawulwa says that some of them, just like him, have been struggling to get capital to put up a small business. He, however, says that the amount of money injected into the scheme might be little to cover the population of private school teachers in the country. The government target is to reach 150,000 teachers, with the funding. 

Preliminary guidelines from the microfinance support centre indicate that each Sacco formed is limited to 30 members and they can only get a maximum of 30 million Shillings which means that in each benefiting group a teacher might get one million Shillings.

Meanwhile, Economist Dr Fred Muhumuza says that the government move is a good step towards supporting teachers to survive after the COVID-19 wave. Although he is also sceptical on whether the said funds will have any impact, he insists that the microfinance support centre must ensure that those who will access the loans are oriented on how best they can use the money.

Every since the lockdown was initiated, several teachers have turned to casual jobs ranging from bricking laying, vending, and running whatever errand that comes to them.

At first Private school owners under their umbrella, the National Private Education Institutions Association were lobbying the government to take over their payrolls for at least a year because institutions are closed and not able to generate income but the government snubbed them saying that there were no funds.

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