By Our Reporter
Mbarara: Hundreds of students in candidate classes at Ntare School, in Mbarara District, are stranded after the school’s support staff staged a sit-down strike over salary arrears for several months on top of working under poor conditions.
The support staff who include cooks, cleaners, guards and others complain that they have gone five months now without receiving any salaries and that they braved through the COVID-19 lockdown without any support from the school administration yet they are expected to work on a daily basis.
“We have not been paid for five months now, yet we were working even during the COVID-19 lockdown, how does the school administration expect us to survive and feed our families,” one of the aggrieved staff members said on condition of anonymity.
She added that “Many of us have since resorted to doing petty jobs in the villages like digging and fetching water so as to earn some coins to buy food.”
or the teaching staff are also not happy after management decided to reduce salaries, under the auspices of mitigating the COVID-19 constraints and because they are only teaching students in candidate classes.
Insiders at the school reveal that the teaching staff are threatening to go on strike too, faulting the school administration for failing to put their needs into consideration, yet in most cases they are required to work overtime so as to be able to cover the syllabus as fast as they can such that students can prepare for their final examinations.
The teachers complain that on top of their salaries being reduced, they never received most of their allowances and didn’t receive any PTA payments or any other emoluments.
The tough financial conditions the teachers are going through have forced many of them to resort to other sources of income, like farming, selling roadside snacks, running kiosks and small shops, among others.
It should however be noted that Ntare School has over 2000 students and each student on average pays Shs1.2M, which translates to slightly over Shs2.4B, but the staff wonder why it has become difficult for the administration to pay their emoluments on time.
Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, Ntare School students had spent about a month at school and many of them had paid their fees and other school according to the teachers.
However, our efforts to contact the school headmaster or any other member of the administration for a comment about this matter were futile since they were out of office, being a weekend.