Teachers have been urged to embrace small businesses to complement their salaries.
Alexis Ntagungira, the director of public service management and promotion at the Ministry of Public Service and Labour, made the call in Kigali, yesterday, while opening a two-day annual meeting of the National Teachers’ Union known by its French acronym SNER.
“Teachers have been complaining about their salary, saying it is not commensurate to current market prices. A policy has been elaborated to gradually increase teacher’s salaries. To cope with market prices, embrace small businesses to complement that salary,” said Ntagungira.
He noted that some incentives are provided for teachers to improve their living conditions, including easing access to loans through Umwalimu Savings and Credit Cooperative (Saccos).
At least 44,000 teachers of the 49,000 who are paid through Umwalimu Sacco have secured a loan from the cooperative, according to latest results of the impact assessment survey of the cooperative.
The meeting brought together representative members of the union to discuss the teachers’ living conditions to explore possible measures to improve it and e the quality of teaching.
Faustin Harelimana, the union’s secretary-general, said there was need for self evaluation.
“As teachers we need to evaluate ourselves to assess the quality of what we deliver and find possible solutions. We will also seek measures to improve our living conditions,” he said.
Gaetan Uwitonze, the head teacher of Gatoki Primary School in Gatsibo District, said there is need for long term loans for teachers.
“We are aware that it is hard for a teacher to develop on salary alone unless one secures a loan, yet it is not helpful to get an overdraft that is paid back in only two years. The short-term implies that the big portion of your salary goes to loan servicing, which leads people to acquire consumption loans instead of investing,” Uwitonze said.
Another teacher, only identified as Vincent, of Inyange School in Gicumbi, said lack of opportunities for further training is among their challenges.
“We want the government to establish a scheme that helps teachers to improve their skills as it is done for health workers,” he said.
Agathe Mukabariho, also a teacher, said lack of parents-teacher collaboration is among the challenges hindering the quality of education.
“We can’t deliver quality education without participation of parents in educating their children.
Parents understand better the weaknesses and strengths of their children. If there is collaboration, it could be easy for us to know how to tackle the weaknesses of a child,” she said.
Currently, the union has over 46,000 members, including teachers, head teachers and lecturers.