It is important that we respect and give thanks to our teaching community who have helped to significantly improve the results of our students over the years. I fondly remember my experience as a volunteer teacher at Queen’s College after successfully completing my CXC exams. We had a teacher shortage and the Headmaster was kind enough to offer a few of us the opportunity to help with the upcoming Fifth Form students. However, if it were not for those teachers that had made it their career and passion for helping students succeed, we would not have been in a position to help.
While working overseas I was impressed by the high degree of respect given to teachers and their high standing in their communities. It was of such importance that those teachers would be given tenure after proving their dedication and successful development of students over the years. Such lifelong job security was a gift by the government to both illustrate their respect and gratitude to those who were playing a key role in the development of the nation.
This is why it is important we consider the total compensation package offered to this group of dedicated public servants. Not only should there be a structure that allows for tenure at the various educational levels, but consideration should be given to preferable financial investment options.
These options could be in the form of reduced housing costs and reduced associated expenses such as electricity and water. Reduced house lot costs and lower interest rates on financing of loans associated with housing and transportation investments.
The option of a transportation allowance in lieu of the preferable financing for motorcycles or vehicle purchase should be considered. After all the biggest purchases or investments we will make over our lifetime are a house and a car. Such consideration will go a long way to improve the total compensation package for the teaching staff.
In addition, a clothing or uniform allowance should be given along with a stipend for the purchase of school supplies, which many teachers of high calibre and dedication usually take from their personal funds to supplement shortages at the schools for student projects. Then there is also an opportunity for the government to supplement the NIS contributions of the teachers to reduce the burden of the deduction while augmenting the total value of the pension they will receive at retirement.
These considerations for a total compensation package should not be in lieu of wage increases. Such one-time wage increases should be followed by annual increases that keep pace with inflation and performance increases agreed to in the new contract.
This holistic approach to the earnings and compensation package of the teachers will allow the government to provide the teachers a stronger foundation for their livelihood, while also motivating the teaching staff to continue to excel in their duties of helping build a stronger nation.
Mr. Jamil Changlee
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