Teachers’ salaries should be based primarily on performance, qualifications and experience. This was among the recommendations made by teachers on remuneration packages, in a report to the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the education sector.
In the report, teachers of The Bishops’ High School stated that remuneration was a key element of any education policy, and should express a vision of the teacher as a professional with a decent salary and good employment conditions.
“The teacher remuneration system not only determines how much teachers earn, but it also has an effect on the attractiveness of the profession, particularly for males, and on the organisation of schools, and on the educational outcomes of students. Indeed, the precise impact of the education system will depend on a sizeable number of factors, some of which are within the control of the Ministry of Education and the central government. Attracting the best graduates into the profession, and retaining a quality and motivated cadre of teachers will likely remain a challenge. Status, working conditions and opportunity for professional development all contribute to this objective. But remuneration remains one of the most powerful success factors in education,” the report stated.
According to the teachers, studies have suggested that teachers and teacher expertise are the most important factors related to student learning and achievements. “Unfortunately, however, the importance of teachers to student achievement has not always translated to better teacher compensation,” the report noted.
The teachers went on to point out that traditionally, teacher compensation has been based exclusively on individual development criteria such as length of service and level of education attained. “Initially, these criteria were aimed at preventing pay inequity between men and women prevalent until the 1940s. They also helped to protect teachers against subjective administrators, and to give incentives to younger teachers to stay in the system,” the teachers affirmed.
The report elucidated that in Guyana, teachers are paid according to a version of the single-salary, or steps and lanes, schedule. It was indicated that this does not imply that all teachers earn the same salary. “Salaries vary, and they vary according to the characteristics of individual teachers. For example, teachers with more education units have larger salaries and teachers with administrative designations also earn more,” the teachers related.
It was explained that the net income of Temporary Qualified Mistresses and Masters is ,659 while Untrained Graduate teachers receive ,456. Meanwhile, Untrained Graduates, with a master’s degree are paid ,164, while Graduate Senior Mistresses and Masters receive 8,512.
The teachers continued to point out that a critical omission from the single-pay schedule used in Guyana is pay for seniority. They explained that this system works by segmenting and paying teachers based on the number of years served. “An obvious advantage of such a system is that it rewards staff for years of experience and incentivises young teachers to remain in the profession. As an example, a pay by seniority scheme may have three grades of seniority – less than five years, five to ten years and more than ten years. There is a strong argument for making an element of salary dependent on length of service and on teacher effort. Pay by seniority rewards teachers for their commitment of time to the system and reflects the relative differences in experience among teachers, while performance-related pay permits reward based on something other than credentials or years of experience, both of which have been shown to be poor indicators of teacher effectiveness ,” the report stated.
Given this issue, the teachers have recommended that a group-based performance incentive scheme be used by the Ministry. “For a subject department with five or more students on CXC’s merit list, CSEC and CAPE, a group package of, say, ,000 to those teachers in that department with direct responsibility for the results. For example, if a business department secures two merit students in Principles of Accounts (CSEC), two in Principles of Business, and one in Economics, then this department qualifies for the incentive. Additionally, a monetary reward can be also offered to each department with five or more students on Guyana’s merit list (top 10 students), CSEC and CAPE. For a school with the highest overall pass rates at CSEC and CAPE respectively, a monetary reward in the range of 0,000 can be offered. To make this system [a] fair one, different categories can be established [to] reflect the varying challenges faced by different schools,” the teachers explained.
They have also urged that non-financial incentives be provided such as coverage of tuition fees in return for a teaching bond; an increase in uniform allowance by a factor of three, to ,000, annually; loan guarantee scheme for the purchase of a vehicle by senior teachers; tax exemptions and/or discounts: as well as discounts and/or exemptions for the purchase of state-provided goods and services.