Teachers are not being rewarded as they should be for the work they do in the classroom.
This statement was yesterday made by Minister of Education, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine.
The Minister was at the time addressing an award ceremony to honour 50 educators at the National Cultural Centre.
“I make no secret of the fact that I believe that because of the financial and budgetary constraints that we function (under), teachers are not being rewarded as they should be in the classroom for the work they are doing,” the Minister disclosed yesterday.
And according to him, “I have been dissatisfied for a very long time, and I have shared this with my friend Mark (Lyte).” Lyte is the President of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) which represents public school teachers. The GTU has been advocating for a 40 per cent across the board pay hike for teachers for this year.
A multi-year agreement the union had with government for a five percent hike came to an end last year end. The GTU is moreover seeking to have a renewed agreement inked with government, which would see teachers being paid a 40 per cent increase this year, 45 per cent next year (2017) and 50 per cent for the three following years (2018-2020) for all categories of teachers.
In a proposal seen by this publication, the Union has taken into consideration inflation, and made it clear that “should there be inflation higher than the percentage agreed upon, then the teachers/teacher-educators must get the benefit of the difference.”
Minister Roopnaraine yesterday conceded that teachers are not paid enough, a fact that many teachers and the union have long recognised.
“The fact of the matter is we don’t pay teachers enough,” said the Education Minister. His disclosure provoked a resounding applause from those gathered in the auditorium of the National Cultural Centre.
“We need to essentially reward our teachers much more,” added the Minister, as he reiterated the importance of rewarding teachers in ways that are “commensurate with the contribution that they are actually making.”
Even as he assured that “I believe, high on the agenda, I am really at one with the GTU on many things, and I am at one with them in terms of their dissatisfaction with the remuneration package that is given to their teachers.”
He however gave consideration to Government’s financial limitation.
“The issue is that we don’t have an infinitely expanding economy. We live in a situation of consequence and there is so much that we can do.”
“I know my friend the Minister of Finance is a thoughtful and very sensitive man and I think he understands perfectly well what it is we need to do in relation to rewarding our teachers. I don’t have to spend a lot of time persuading him but he, more than any of us, is fully aware of the constraints under which we function and what it is we can do and can’t do,” Minister Roopnaraine said.
When asked whether the GTU-proposed 40 per cent increase for this year would be feasible, the Minister said, “frankly I would like to give the teachers even more, but you know we have teachers to deal with, we have nurses to deal with…if you begin to raise the salaries of teachers in the classroom, the nurses are going to say ‘what about us?’”
But Minister Roopnaraine said yesterday that he was prepared to work along with the Union to establish a working committee to deal with the business of education. In fact, he admitted that there is no greater task or no greater burden than dealing with education.
“Burden though it may be, it is made much less onerous by the extremely competent individuals who staff the education sector,” the Minister concluded.
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