I begin this letter with a quote: “Modern cynics and skeptics…see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing.” This quote, I believe, fittingly encapsulates the disheartening reality of the education system in Guyana, an education system that shamelessly and presumptuously undervalues the moulders of the minds of the nation’s people.
While the issue that my letter raises is generalizable within the context of the Guyana education system, I would like to draw specific focus to the undervaluing and consequent underpayment of part-time lecturers employed by the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).
When I was first approached to conduct a course at one of the centres, I politely declined, for I was working on a full-time basis at another institution and was also completing a Master’s Degree. I did, however, offer a list of persons whom I believe are qualified and would be interested in the part-time job offer. I was subsequently informed by the Head of the Centre that while all the persons contacted expressed interest in teaching the course, none of them were willing to accept the part-time package offered by CPCE, and so, in the interest of the students, I accepted the job temporarily.
The package includes payment for two hours of course delivery each week for fifteen weeks and payment for travelling. For a lecturer with a Trained Teacher’s Certificate, the payment for one hour of teaching is $700; for a lecturer with a Bachelor’s Degree, $1,000; and for a lecturer with a Master’s Degree, $1,500. The fixed payment for the trip to and from the centre is $300. To add insult to injury, deductions, including NIS and tax deduction, are made to the monthly earnings.
No payment is given for the setting of three coursework assessments; no payment is given for the marking of scripts; no payment is given for the setting of make-up assessments for students whose coursework score is below the pass mark; no payment is given for the creation of activity/task sheets for each session, and no payment is given for extra hours of teaching. Is it any wonder, then, that many are reluctant to conduct courses on a part-time basis at CPCE?
Apart from the non-payment for the additional work indicated previously, there is also the issue of late payment. For this semester, ten weeks of work has been completed, but no payment has yet been issued. If the administration at CPCE truly values the work of educators, then the administration should have ensured that payments for work done are distributed in a timely manner. They should have also ensured that their employees are reasonably compensated for their hard work.
Interestingly, since CPCE is offering the Associate Degree in Education that is considered the same as the Certificate in Education offered by the University of Guyana (UG), one would have expected that the payment for part-time work would be comparable to that offered by the university, but this is not the case. And, whether CPCE would revise the remuneration package offered to part-time lecturers and make it equivalent to the remuneration package offered by UG is something for which one can only hope. It is sadly ironic, though, that an institution supposedly dedicated to training teachers is guilty of undervaluing its own products.
(Name and address provided)