From time to time, the TSC has drawn the attention of various education ministers to the low salaries of teachers.



Mr. Editor,

I note EB John’s letter “It is not unreasonable to expect TSC to show initiative regarding teacher pay anomalies” in SN of June 29th.

As a member of the Commissions appointed between 1994 and 2008, I will simply say, at this point, that the TSC understood its authority and the authority of the Ministry of Education and the Teachers Union. He took a principled stance that he would not offer any public comment, but every now and then he drew the attention of various education ministers and senior officials in that ministry to how bad teacher salaries are. were poor (and, coincidentally, the difficulties for the TSC in making appointments and keeping vacancies filled indefinitely, depending on the push-pull factors of internal and external migration).

Mr John says: “But with the greatest respect, nothing he said negates the substantive issue regarding the low levels of remuneration offered to so many qualified teachers, and the responsibilities they carry out. so faithfully, and for which they are publicly responsible. “I’m just saying that I was in the trenches since the 1940s and 1950s, learning at the feet of Winston Verbeke, Andrew Jackson and Richard Ishmael in the days of dual control of schools, when teachers were paid, not by the government. , but by the governing bodies. government grants to them. Transport workers had no job security and no pension rights. Terms such as “Casual”, “Temporary casual” and “Permanent casualty” Were common.

I fully recognize “the low levels of pay offered to so many qualified teachers” and know the history of the battle, first to get the salary of the class I teacher on par with that of the class official. I; then go beyond; then have the teaching service officially recognized as a professional service, so that no one should be employed as a teacher unless, like a doctor, he / she has been professionally trained first.

Mr John said: “I sincerely hope that we can agree that the Guyana Teachers Union is the real co-default in this situation, the other of course being the respective administrations.

I agree.

Mr. John says: “Would my colleague deny that teachers produce talent that comes into the public service at better rates of pay, albeit with less responsibility?”

I wouldn’t deny it. This is the kind of situation the teachers’ union has always fought to avoid. But the focus is not on where the Office Assistant starts. It’s his union’s business. The teachers’ union focuses on the value of the professional teacher trained in Guyana, especially compared to his professional colleagues in the Caribbean and beyond. I have never seen a local advertisement inviting clerks to work in other countries. But there have been a lot of announcements for teachers.

I draw attention to my article in Guyana Review, Vol. 10, Nos. 109 & 110, January and February 2002: “Going concern: The exodus of teacher is a growing concern” in which, not only did I draw attention to the recruitment campaigns of the United States, Botswana, the Bahamas and from some other Caribbean islands, but I have provided a table showing comparative salaries in US dollars. This is just one example of my posts on these issues.

This is another reason why, over time, I have provided the CGU with copies of agreements signed by other teachers’ unions. But the elected leadership of the GTU is guided by the elected representatives of the General Council who are supposed to listen to the members. I wouldn’t have the impertinence to publicly condemn their decisions. I offer them a written comment only if it is specifically requested.

I remind Mr John that I returned a copy of his previous letter to him in SN and provided him with a series of detailed 17 point comments in which I largely agreed with his position, but gave him the historical context for each subject. One of these comments on “permanent temporary teachers” may be of general interest:

12. Again, this is the historical development of education in Guyana. The agreement between the government and the teachers’ union stipulated that no one would be appointed a teacher unless he had been trained first. The government is committed to exponentially expanding teacher training – which it has really, really tried to do – to meet the needs. Each new teacher who was not a trained teacher was therefore designated as “temporary” and had three (3) years to undergo training. But as the government trained, teachers moved elsewhere for better salaries. The net has become a flood. [See for example, Cave (1986) “Emphasis in Teacher Train-ing” or Cave (1998) “A Brief Comment on Accessing Promotional Benefits in the Teaching Service of Guyana” or  Cave (2001) “The Guyanese Teacher and the Overseas Recruitment Drives”]

Mr John says: “We should no longer pretend that there is no better ability to pay, especially in the face of the grant-donor observation of low returns to the education system. We must insist on worrying about the Teachers, of whom there is already a shortage. “

I agree with his words.

So how can we as a nation move forward from here, please?

Would Mr. John be prepared to provide the GTU with a draft of the type of salary structure for the under 28 ranks he has in mind?

I do not have the required skills.

The GTU may not have the expertise.

Perhaps funding from the current donor could be available.

Yours faithfully,

George N. Cave



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