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Lira City Teachers Miss Salaries for Months

Christine Ayo, a literature teacher at Comboni College, says that she last received a salary in January 2022 and ever since then, life has not been easy. She says that she has been struggling to support her family and transport herself to her workstation, which is 6kms away.

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Over 1,200 teachers from government-aided schools in Lira City have gone for months without pay. Some of the teachers last received their salary in January while others last recieved their salary in February 2022.

The anomaly has been attributed to the creation of Lira city and the separation of payroll for the mother district- Lira. The City officials also blame the delay by the Ministry of Finance to present a supplementary budget before Parliament.

Records from the Town Clerk’s office indicate that the city requested a supplementary budget in November 2021 and received an advance of Shillings 1.4billion in quarter II and Shillings 1.05billion in quarter III, which enabled them to pay the December and January salaries respectively.

He, however, says that the allocation for quarter III is already exhausted with only Shillings 11.1billion, which is insufficient to pay salaries for March. The city then requested a supplementary budget of Shillings 3.7 billion to allow them to meet their obligation.

Christine Ayo, a literature teacher at Comboni College, says that she last received a salary in January 2022 and ever since then, life has not been easy. She says that she has been struggling to support her family and transport herself to her workstation, which is 6kms away.

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Ayo says the delayed payment is affecting her performance as a teacher because she is not psychologically well prepared for lessons.

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Moses Abili, a science teacher at V.H Public primary school, who last received his salary in February, says that he has been borrowing money from friends and money lenders for survival.

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Edward Ayo, the Teacher's Coordinator in Lira City, says that the issue of missing salary is becoming a norm in Lira City and yet teachers have to survive just like any other civil servants. Ayo is worried that if not sorted on time, teachers might not receive anything, especially since the financial year is ending. 

Jasper Abura, the Lira City Principal Education Office,r who acknowledged the problem, says that several attempts have been made to address the matter of teachers' salaries in vain.

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He is hopeful that the matter will be sorted out and all teachers will receive their salaries including arrears.

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But Denis Hamson Obua, the state Minister for Education and Sports wondered why Lira City is seeking a supplementary for paying teachers yet the salary for a government staff is a statutory obligation, which does not require a supplementary budget. 

“A salary of a government civil servant is a statutory obligation. It is normally the first call in a budget, especially for those who have been in service. I wonder where the issue of the supplementary budget for teachers who have been in service is coming from in the first instance because a supplementary budget is for unforeseen/ unavoidable circumstances," he said.

Adding that “the town clerk together with the mayor need to call the teachers and explain to them." It should be noted that the delay in paying salaries for teachers has been reported in other districts. In February, over 40 teachers in the Arua district stormed the office of the Chief Administrative Officer protesting the delayed payment of their salaries. They threatened to lay their tools because they had not received their pay since the financial year started in July.

In March, the teachers petitioned the Inspector General of Government–IGG over the same issue, saying that district officials failed to address their complaints despite repeated promises.

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