When the Ugandan government ordered learning institutions to close in March 2020 to curtail the spread of Covid-19, many private schools laid off staff for they could not afford to pay their salaries without the money coming from fees.
Private school teachers were not the only ones who bore the brunt of Uganda’s two-year closure of schools. Even though government school teachers continued to earn salaries, they too have gone through some of the toughest times during the pandemic.
“Covid-19 caught me unawares. I was forced to venture into small-scale farming to continue to put food on the table,” said Jasper Ogwang, who teaches biology at the Sir Tito Winyi Secondary School in Hoima district in western Uganda. “Unfortunately, what I planted did not give me a good harvest because the land is not fertile.”
The 53-year-old father of eight says that even though some may think that people like him were not financially strained because they were not paying school fees for their children, “what the children were demanding at home was more than what they usually demand when they are at school – and yet I was now getting less money”, he said.