Teachers' leaders in Uganda reaffirmed on Saturday that they would begin an indefinite strike at the beginning of the new term on September 14th if the government did not fulfill its pledge to increase their pay by 20%. At present teachers in the country earn between $119 and $139 a month. The General Secretary of the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU), Janes Tweheyo, told the website chimpreports: “We are going to start another 90 days strike starting on September 14 to December 14 and I can assure you that we will not teach or even go schools at all. " If teachers were forced to go to school despite the strike call, he added, they simply would not teach

The teachers have got support from the Trade Union Centre, the National Organisation of Trade Unions who declared that a national strike of all workers would be called if the agreement to give the teachers an increase was not honoured. 

The teachers and other workers are facing a government led by Yoweri Mnuseveni, who has been President of the country for 27 years, which has a history of brutal repression of strikes. According to the NGO, Human Rights Watch: "After (27) years of President Yoweri Museveni’s rule, ongoing threats to freedom of expression, assembly, and association continue to raise serious concerns. Security forces largely enjoy impunity for torture, extrajudicial killings, and the deaths of at least 49 people during protests in 2009 and 2011.  The government banned a political pressure group calling for peaceful change, obstructed opposition rallies, and harassed and intimidated journalists and civil society activists working on corruption, oil, land, and sexual rights."

Museveni has consistently followed World Bank prescriptions for economic 'reform'.  International oil corporations are already sniffing round the country as oil is due to come on stream in 2018. And as far as education policy is concerned, Museveni has pleased the World Bank by introducing Public Private Partnerships in secondary education, allowing private individuals and companies free rein to make profits from secondary education with almost no government oversight. According to a study by Education International: The effect of PPPs on teachers relates to the increasing number of underpaid and untrained teachers working in schools, as they are considered to be more profitable for the profit- oriented PPP schools. As several stakeholders addressed, contract teachers working in private PPP schools enjoy few rights and lack a strong union representation and, as a result, they can be fired at will by the managers of the school. According to the UNATU, an emphasis is put on a “parallel and informal labour market that undermines the status of professional teachers, and has been weakening the teachers’ unions’ capacity to negotiate at national level”

So as in so many other countries both in the North and South, the vultures of private profit are circling round the education system, using the promotion of Education for All as a convenient pretext. And as in so many countries too, teachers and their allies are fighting back and demanding that public education be funded properly.