Education minister, Jessica Alupo

Education minister, Jessica Alupo

The new salary structure explicitly delineates how much lecturers in various teaching positions in public universities will earn under a pay raise recently sanctioned by President Yoweri Museveni, as part of a move by government to take over the entire wage bill of public universities.

This pay raise will benefit lecturers in the six public universities-including Makerere, Kyambogo, Gulu, Busitema, Muni and Mbarara.

Makerere University Business School (MUBS) and Uganda Management Institute (UMI) are the public degree awarding institutions whose lecturers will equally partake of the salary increment.

The President had earlier pledged to raise the pay of academics in public universities in a meeting with Makerere University officials held at State House Entebbe on August 21 2014. The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Gen Kale Kayihura was the brain behind the meeting.

The Makerere delegation then comprised Chancellor Prof Mondo Kagonyera, Chairperson of University Council Eng. Wana Etyem, Vice Chancellor Prof John Ddumba Ssentamu, Chairperson of the Makerere academics Dr Muhammad Kiggundu and Students? Guild President Ivan Bwowe.

In that meeting, Museveni also said government would, with effect from the next financial year, increase the subvention to public universities from the current sh120b to sh300b, ?which should cover competitive staff salaries and some operational costs, leaving student fees to cater for utilities and other operational costs.?

That day, Museveni pledged to raise the gross salary of Professor of a full professor, the highest paid academic to sh15m and that of a teaching assistant, the lowest paid academic to sh2.5m starting the 2015/2016 financial year. The pay rise for the rest of the teaching staff, Museveni said would fall between that for professors and teaching assistants-based on their positions.

Last month, the President subsequently directed the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to apportion money to foot a pay rise for academics in the next financial year. In the last few weeks, the Education Ministry and the lecturers have been developing the comprehensive salary structure.

According to Dr Kiggundu, in a meeting between the Education Ministry and lecturers held on January 08, the two parties settled for a salary structure that will cost government sh289, 212,000,000 in wages to 2,713 academics every financial year.

Of this money, 171, 300, 000,000 will go to lecturers who are scientist and the remaining sh117, 912,000,000 will cater for the salaries of lecturers who are not scientists. This disparity in annual wage bill is testament of the fact that there are more scientists (1,597) in teaching ranks than non-scientists (1116).

Under the new salary structure, Professors will be the topmost earners, bagging sh15m every month. An associate professor will earn sh13m; a senior lecturer will get sh11m, a senior lecturer will recieve sh9m-followed by an assistant lecturer (7m) and a teaching assistant (sh5m).

Kiggundu said the initial recommendation to keep the salary of a teaching assistant at sh2.5m was unfair since members of this group of academics currently earn in the same region.

In case part of the money pledged by Museveni residues after footing the pay rise of academics, Kigggundu said the wages of the administrative staff in public universities will similarly be enhanced.

Education Minister Jessica Alupo has confirmed that this salary structure, a copy of which the Sunday Vision has acquired is the one government and the lecturers jointly developed, saying she will soon forward it to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning so that it can be factored in next year?s budget.

?Government appreciates the work of lecturers. I expect that with this salary enhancement, lecturers should be able to do their job even better. President Museveni is a visionary who knows the importance of human resource development and therefore this is a priority to him,? said Alupo in an interview on Friday.

In a press conference on Friday at Makerere University Council room, Kagonyera thanked Kayihura for organizing the meeting between the university?s leadership and Museveni that eventually fruited into the latter?s pledge to raise wages of academics.

?We convey our greatest gratitude to the IGP who has played a crucial role in cementing the symbiotic relationship between government and Makerere,? said Kagonyera.

Ddumba said, ?Makerere University has direct access to the President through Gen Kale Kayihura and we thank him for this noble service?.

Comparison

If this new salary structure is implemented, the lecturers in public universities will earn more than their colleagues in private universities.

A mini survey conducted by the Sunday Vision revealed that most private universities in Uganda give their professors a gross monthly salary of slightly over sh5m.

It was also established that most private universities give their teaching assistants about sh1.5m in monthly salary. Salary scales for the rest of the teaching positions in private universities fall in between that for the professor and the teaching assistant.

This pay rise will make Ugandan professors the best paid in East Africa. According to a 2012 report issued by a committee of all vice chancellors of public universities in Kenya, the monthly salary and allowances of a full professor in Kenya are an average of $2,200 (about sh5.5m) compared with $4,900 (about 12.25m) in Rwanda, $3,200 (about sh8m) in Tanzania and $ 1,150 (sh2.8) in Uganda.

Uganda?s teaching assistants will also be the highest paid in East Africa. Teaching assistants get $844 (sh2.1m) in Kenya, $1200 (sh3m) in Rwanda and $1,500 (about sh3.7m) in Tanzania.

Low salaries are behind the high attrition rates at public universities in Uganda. Makerere lost 25 high-profile lecturers in 2011 alone, forcing management to put a few post graduate programmes on halt. Mbarara also lost 20 lecturers while Gulu reportedly loses about 10 senior lecturers every academic year.

A 2012 Auditor General?s report shows that there is need for close to 3,000 lecturers and others in more senior positions in the four of the then five public universities.

Innocent Anguyo, The New Times

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