Primary teachers decry lack of contracts

Some primary teachers still work without permanent contracts, limiting their ability to access benefits that are enjoyed by their colleagues and making their positions untenable.

Several teachers in Bugesera and Nyamagabe districts that The New Times spoke to said they have worked for more than three years without contracts.

Under the government recruitment process, primary teachers from teacher training colleges are employed on a one-year probation basis.

They are then required to do an exam that tests their competency to continue working as teachers.  Those who pass are supposed to be given permanent contracts.

In addition to threatening their job security, the teachers say that the lack of professional contracts limits their ability to access other benefits such as loans from the teachers’ cooperative—Umwalimu SACCO.

Venuste Kayiranga, from GS Nyakayaga in Bugesera District, says that he has worked for over 10 years without a contract.

When his probation arrangement ended in 2009 he did the test and past. He was put on a government payroll and promptly gets his monthly salary even without a written contract.

Kayiranga is among the 462 teachers in Bugesera District who are affected by this problem.

“I started teaching in 2009, but I have never been given a contract despite having passed my probation,” he said.

Other teachers who talked to The New Times said despite receiving their monthly wages, they’ve never been given contracts.

Fabien Habimana, a teacher at Ecole Primaire Sanzu, successfully completed his probation three years. He continues to work without a contract

“It feels like doing a part-time job, where you can be stopped from work anytime,” he said.

Ethiene Ntahobavukiye, the head teacher of Sanzu Primary School in Nyamagabe District, blamed the problem on the unending changes that happen in the schools leadership.

Ideally, he said, it’s the head teachers’ responsibility to recommend their staff for consideration for government contracts.

However, given that the head teachers keep changing, he noted, the new leaders inherit a backlog of activities to carry out and hence teachers’ welfare takes the back seat.

Isaac Munyakazi, the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, said he was not aware of the problem, and advised the affected teachers to write an official letter to the ministry.

The teachers are recruited by districts.

Albert Niyigena, the Education Officer of Bugesera, told The New Times that the teachers who are affected most are the ones recruited immediately after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

He said they were recruited without appointment letters from districts.

Niyigena said the district has sought the help of the Ministry of Public Service and Labour in its attempt to resolve the problem.