Officials of the Education Service Commission (ESC) under First Lady Janet Kataaha Kainembabazi Museveni’s Ministry of Education and Sports are being accused of soliciting and accepting bribes to appoint hundreds of teachers as education officers (EOs) and assistant education officers (AEOs) in the recently concluded recruitment exercise.
The ESC has recruited over 3,000 EOs and AEOs. But the release of the lists of successful candidates has been greeted with claims of bribery by officials of what sources told The Pearl Times could be a well-connected network that reportedly runs from the regional centres to the head office.
A disgruntled candidate who did interviews at the Mbarara Centre said he knew five of his colleagues who had each paid Shs2m to ‘someone’ to help them get on the list of successful applicants.
“I thought the process was supposed to be fair and transparent but I was shocked when these people who paid the bribe appeared on the list but I and others who declined to were left out,” the aggrieved candidate told this publication on condition of anonymity. “There is a lot of corruption in the Education Service Commission. The jobs they advertise go to those who pay millions.”
Another candidate from Jinja claimed that when she and fellow applicants went to Kampala for interviews, some people who said they were well connected to the ESC officials who would approve the final list. She alleged that these ‘connected people’ were asking for Shs1.5m to help the candidates scoop the jobs.
“I know some people who paid that money and have been included on the final lists unlike me who did not since I consider bribery a wrong thing, and because I also could not get the Shs1.5m they were demanding.”
Yet another unsuccessful candidate, who sat interviews at the Arua Centre, urged the ESC to cancel the released lists, saying these included several people who only made it because they could afford to pay a bribe to some ‘well connected’ officials at the Commission.
The Pearl Times was unable to independently verify these allegations. But the same claims were directly presented to the ESC on social media.
A one D Akanyijuka who had applied but missed out on the jobs told ESC secretary Dr Asuman Lukwago: “ESC is rotten, only those who bribed have appeared against those who didn’t. Sad for this country.”
“No money in the pocket, no job in Uganda especially in arts subject like Islam. I remember answering all the questions very well but how come?” added another one named Nasasira, a disappointed unsuccessful canddiate.
ESC secretary Dr Lukwago dismissed the allegations, claiming the exercise was merit-based. He attributed the disappointments to the fact that there were only a few jobs yet there were several job seekers.
“Impossible! It’s a merit based exercise, many of you pass the interviews but the Education Service Commission appoints from top-down till the number of declared posts is achieved,” responded Lukwago.
“Unfortunately good teachers are left out because of the limited numbers of posts.”
It was not yet clear if some of the disgruntled candidates had lodged formal complaints and appeals before the Commission. But the disgruntled teachers who talked to this publication on condition of anonymity said they believed that the ESC operated a mafia-like network a and that they did not believe that anything good would come out of their complaints or appeals. It remains to be seen if the Commission, whose chairperson is Rev Prof Dr Samuel Abimerech Luboga, and its deputy chairperson Museveni’s sister Dr Violet Kajubiri-Floelich, if the commission will be recalling the recently released lists and halting the appointments therein to institute investigations into allegations of bribery.
NOT ALL BRIBED
Meanwhile, as expected, there are some happy teachers who were appointed as either education officers or assistant education officers without digging in their pockets to pay corrupt officials through their alleged network believed to be well connect to some unscrupulous officials at the ESC.
A one Sergeon Sibunabirwa, who was recruited as a Mathematics assistant education officer, said he had not bribed anyone but was given the coveted payroll job.
“For sure I’m amongst the successful candidates who went through, I never paid any bribe to anyone, Pro Rev Dr Abimelech Samuel Luboga Thank you for fighting corruption in ESC. One gets a job without any bribe moreover in Uganda. Abimelech you deserve to be a president,” wrote Sibunabirwa.
Agatha Tumusiime, another applicant who missed out on the current recruitment but had been on the payroll since 2012, disagreed with those claiming that they missed out because they failed to pay bribes.
“I disagree with you. I was appointed in 2012 with not paying anything. Yes, on this one I missed out but I can’t attribute it to not having money but on slots being few may be because I know I didn’t fail the interview.”
Stephen Katukore, who was hired as a Physics teacher, also said he had not bribed, but was aware of several teachers who had paid their way to the payroll. “I almost lost hope at some point due to my friends who were talking about bribery. But finally my name appears with no pay. Thanks Jane tMuseveni for the improved service in ESC. PS Lukwago, thanks so much. With you in the commission, Justice is assured. I have also believed!”
Lameka Kiyimba, who was appointed Biology assistant education officer said: “Dr Asuman Lukwago, thanks for the work done finally am on the list and it is national merit for sure ,I have appeared on the list without paying any single coin to anybody, assistant educational officer biology.”
The Pearl Times was able to locate the names of Katukore, Kiyimba and Sibunabirwa on final lists but could not independently verify their claims of innocence even though they used social media to praise the ESC for choosing them on merit.
On July 20, the Education Service Commission released the list showing names of 3,000 teachers who were given government payroll jobs. (See List Here).
The Commission has also appointed new secondary school head teachers and deputy headteachers. (See their Names Here).
The list of 600 successful candidates under Phase two for the Kampala Centre is Here.