PARENTS PAYING TEACHERS’ SALARIES
(By Matilda Natukunda)
The community of Padoch Centre, Padoch Parish, Panyango subcounty in Pakwach district opened its own school, Padoch Community primary and Early childhood development school.
The school was originally opened in 1986 as a bush school run by the community until NUSAF (a government program) constructed 2 classroom blocks in 2004.
It was hard to sustain the teachers as the community was struggling with dire poverty forcing the school to close only to be reopened in 2016.
A number of education campaigns focusing on the girl child education by ActionAid Uganda through its grass root structures such as the Activista and local leaders motivated the community to reopen the school.
Allan Keralli an AAU Activista said; “the nearest school to this parish is 3 km away and we convinced the community that it was better to have our children pay only 6500 for a school close to home than pay 15000 for a school far away!”
The ECD head care giver Thomas Clarkson said; “we met resistance in the beginning, but we were aggressive with the mission of the school, so we identified homes whose heads were drunkards and volunteered to educate 1 child per household at no cost! We also asked the community to deliver the orphaned children for the same scheme! In no time the community realized that we meant business and were not about to give up! The numbers of pupils multiplied and so did the paying community members.”
The school is home to 414 pupils (220 girls, 194 boys) in the primary section (P1-P3) and 127 infants (88 girls, 60 boys) adding up to 541 pupils in the school.
It has only 7 teachers including the headteacher, with only 3 qualified to teach.
The community is committed to keeping the school open because of the great improvement they have observed in the livelihood of their children and their families as a whole.
The teachers are given a monthly remuneration of 50,000/= (Uganda shillings) by the parents. Each child in primary is expected to pay school fees worth 6,500/= every term while those in the ECD pay 21,500/= each.
The teachers have gone months without pay but continue to teach the children faithfully.
The community is immensely proud of their efforts in keeping the school open as captured in the expression of one of them “ we are not looking for donations or for anyone to take upon themselves the burden of running the school! All we want is to attract the attention of the government and other organizations that can support us raise the standard of our school. Let the government fund the school!” ; the school is struggling with the lack of qualified teachers, learning aids, remuneration of the teachers, classroom blocks, clean water, desks and proper latrines.
The district leadership is aware of the existence of the school and the district chairperson Omito Steen has already committed to doing his best to ensure government commits to funding the school.