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Uganda’s Teaching Profession Lost to the Pandemic

The Economic Policy Research Centre, a thinktank in Kampala, reported in May that 85% of private schools were not paying full teacher salaries due to financial challenges brought on by Covid-19. About 40% of Uganda’s primary schools and 60% of its secondaries are private institutions, run by individuals, religious organisations, charities and businesses, with no help from the local authorities. Their main source of income is through school fees, which cover all running costs, including teachers’ salaries, which range from $100 to $250 a month. Some private schools offer a high-quality education and good facilities, some are started as business ventures, purely to make money for the owners. But many others are opened and funded by families or villages in areas where government schools are overcrowded or too far away. When schools closed, parents stopped paying, income dried up and most schools had to reduce or stop paying teachers’ salaries. The government continued to pay the wages of state school teachers, but its promises to assist private school teachers have gone unfulfilled. Many teachers in Uganda have found new careers, which threaten the future of private schools. Hundreds are being put up for sale due to pressures from banks to repay loans and disinterest from owners to reopen.