The Uganda Muslim Supreme Council-UMSC has resurrected its longtime complaint against the Ministry of Education and Education Service Commission in particular for allegedly sidelining Muslims during the appointment and promotion of teachers.
The fresh dispute stems from the recent appointment and promotions of teachers where the Education Service Commission named four assistant education officers to teach Islamic Religious Education-IRE. However, to the dismays of Muslims and UMSC, none of the four assistant education officers in a Muslims.
Hajj Muhamood Kateregga, the chairperson of the Education Committee at UMSC, says the ministry has over the years favoured non-Muslims when appointing IRE teachers, which amounts to undermining their faith.
“To make it worse, the ministry deploys non-Muslims IRE teachers in our schools, which is unfair since no Christian schools have ever been given a Muslim to teach Christian religious education-CRE,” he noted. Hajj Kateregga says that although it is not compulsory that only Muslims should teach IRE, the ministry should be considerate while considering those posted to Muslim schools.
However, Dr. Asuman Lukwago, the Secretary Education Service Commission refutes the claims of bias noting that teachers are selected on merit as opposed to their religious affiliation.
Apart from competency, Lukwago says that in past years the Commission could rarely get applications from Muslims to teach IRE since it was not being taught as a teaching subject at Grade V level.
However, Sheikh Juma Bakhit Cucu, the Secretary of Education at UMSC contests Lukwago’s argument, saying that there are many Muslim IRE teachers registered by the Ministry of Education but at many times they are not shortlisted.
“Muslim teachers are available. Most of our schools are employing them through PTA on a contract basis. We have their lists, some teachers have applied more than thrice but they are never shortlisted,” he noted. He also says that there are also structural challenges as students of Religious Studies at Grade V level are only taught CRE leaving out IRE.
To Sheikh Bakhit the problem goes beyond IRE teachers as Muslims have been generally sidelined when it comes to appointments and promotions in the education sector.
“We have been documenting everything. Muslims are not given equal opportunity like other candidates. This is something we have complained about over years. We are also preparing to meet the new permanent secretary over the same,” Sheikh Bakhit noted.
He also noted that they want the ministry to stop appointing non-Muslim teachers as heads of Muslim-founded schools.