Teachers attached to private schools in Mbarara are struggling to repay bank loans that they acquired before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the president ordered the closure of schools on 18th March 2020 as a measure to curtail the spread of the COVID-19, some teachers in private schools have not gone back to work even after the short re-opening in a phased manner.
Teaching being their major source of livelihood, many teachers say they have faced untold challenges and are struggling to survive.
Moses Buregyeya, the Secretary-General of the Mbarara City Private Teachers Association says majority of the private teachers who had acquired soft loans to engage in small businesses to supplement their salaries have failed to repay.
He says since the first lockdown on 18th March 2020 following the outbreak of the COVID- 19 pandemic many teachers of private schools are struggling and have lost their small businesses they had started to supplement their incomes to banks and money lenders after failing to pay their loans. He says others are hiding from the banks that are determined to get back their money.
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Obed Nkasiima, a teacher from a private school says he lost his retail shop that had capital of five million shillings to a Savings and cooperative society after he failed to remit his monthly payments.
He says he had a mutual agreement with the school and the SACCO to deduct the payments from his salary but since the closure of schools, he couldn’t earn thus failed to remit and lost his shop.
Buregyeya says that during the first lockdown, the president ordered landlords not to evict groups of people whose sources of income had completely been closed -a category that private teachers belonged, noting that during the second lockdown no directive was made to that effect sadly everyday private teachers are being thrown out of their rented houses..
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He says the 20 billion shillings’ relief the president promised the private teachers in June last year has since not been released despite the hard times they are going through.
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Provia Namanya Kabaho, a private teacher says they have been left behind as if they are not contributing to the nation. She says other categories of vulnerable people have been rescued like musicians, comedians but private teachers are not recognised.
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Collins Nyangaro a financial consultant, says that teachers should open up to their lenders the challenges they are going through and ask for either more time or put a halt on the re-carrying profits .
Meanwhile Private teachers under their umbrella Greater Mbarara Movement Private Teachers Association have stormed the office of the Mbarara city Resident Commissioner with a petition seeking a meeting with President Yoweri Museveni.
The Association brings together over 1000 teachers from the six districts that formed greater Mbarara.
In the letter that is addressed to the Mbarara Resident City Commissioner, the private teachers want the RCC James Mwesigye to organize for them a meeting with the president so that they can tell him their challenges.