ARUA. West Nile teachers are failing to borrow billions of shillings the government of Uganda allocated to cater for their welfare through WALIMU savings and credit cooperative organization (SACCO) Union limited, officials have said.
WALIMU SACCOs Union limited is an umbrella body of all teachers’ SACCOs in Uganda whose principal role is to foster the growth and development of all teachers’ SACCOs in the country.
According to Mr. Stephen Nabende, the WALIMU SACCOs Union National Chairman-Board, they have so far received UGX17. 085 billion from the government of which West Nile teachers have only managed to borrow UGX499, 850, 000.
He said only three teachers’ SACCOs of Adjumani, Nebbi-Zombo and West Nile teachers’ SACCO benefited from the fund with each receiving UGX300m, UGX99, 850, 000 and UGX100m respectively.
Speaking during the launch of the disbursed funds at Heritage Courts hotel in Arua town on Tuesday, Nabende noted that a total of 17, 000 teachers from 185 SACCOs have benefited from the funds in the whole country with just three SACCO groups from the whole of West Nile region.
“This meeting was organized by the First Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Moses Ali, having shown concern as to why teachers of West Nile are not fully benefiting from the government teachers SACCO funds. It is the gist of the meeting,” Nabende said in his remarks.
“So, we would like to get answers from the RDCs, district chairpersons, district commercial officers and more so from; you, teachers. This is a government program which should fully be supported. As I talk now, we have only three SACCOs in the whole of West Nile that have accessed some funds as opposed to many other SACCOs in the different parts of the country,” Nabende added.
He said the time has come for leaders to mobilize teachers in the region to form SACCOs and come up with income-generating projects that shall not compromise school programs so as to benefit from the funds.
Nabende observed that WALIMU SACCOs Union advances funds to teachers’ SACCOs at an interest rate of 8 percent per annum and then teachers borrow the money at a rate not exceeding 15 percent per year as opposed to the loans they pick from other microfinance institutions.
But Mr Nicholas Odeba, the Zombo district education officer (DEO) said he has observed that the Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) leaders in the districts of West Nile are not active in marketing the WALIMU SACCO in the region.
“That is with evidence in my district; they are not active. If through your structure, you could also empower them (the UNATU officials) to become more active and we come in to support them, I think we shall have an expanded WALIMU SACCO in the region,” Odeba advised.
Ms Margaret Edea, the UNATU Chairperson of Adjumani district instead regretted that the WALIMU SACCO came when most teachers have been enslaved financially by other financial institutions in the region.
“I’m talking about cases of multiple borrowing by teachers. Most teachers have gone for loans to different banks with high-interest rates because of the challenges they face and at the end of the day, they run away from classes for fear of being arrested by loan officers,” said Edea.
She urged the district human resource officers to critically follow teachers’ payslips and guide them against multiple borrowing basing on the codes on their payslips.
It is for this reason that Gen. Moses Ali asked the teachers in West Nile to make use of the government funds by borrowing money through their SACCOs to supplement on their salaries.
“Your number is so big as teachers and this has been a serious challenge to the government. But as we prepare to address your problems, use this opportunity to supplement your salaries. I can’t see any reason why you can’t borrow the money the government has put in your SACCO to improve on your lives,” Ali wondered.