It is disadvantaged educationists who lay the foundation for future regional officials

Dear Editor,

SN’s editorial of Friday, April 6 on the issue of compensation for Guyana’s teachers touched a nerve that has rankled me for the past two decades. At the same time there was the connection to be made of thousands of teachers coming out in protest in several jurisdictions in the USA against unconscionably poor pay – in one glaring instance no increase in ten years. Little could they imagine that there are kindred sufferers in this country.

One was disappointed to learn from the editorial that the earlier related Commission of Inquiry did not address this endemic disfigurement in the public education system in Guyana. In fact the editorial could have commented more on the imbalance in compensation paid to a teacher with a UG degree or diploma from Cyril Potter College, and that of some recently appointed Deputy Regional Executive Officers – at Grade GS12 in the Public Service job hierarchy – $254,936–$440,519 (which maximum falls within the scale applicable to a Permanent Secretary).

And if, more likely, the incumbent is recruited on contract he/she would normally be entitled to gratuity of 22.5% of salary at the end of every six month period of service.

As is common knowledge there are fourteen salary grades in the Public Service.

Theoretically, however, there are 28 grades in the Teachers’ Salary Schedule, three of which actually carry fixed salaries, as follows.

And over all these decades no one seems to have observed the irony of the above being described as scales. At least there is more honesty in declaring the top salary (? Scale 29) as special – at the static rate of $278,783 monthly.

The only other salary level negligibly comparable to that of a Deputy Regional Executive officer is at TS19 – $247,015 – $264,981 – (which in fact is level (Scale 28) in this convoluted structure).

How come!

Very briefly the 2018 Estimates show the untouched traditional structure as follows:

TS 1 – Sub Grades A-D

TS 2 – Sub-Grades A-C

TS 3 – No Sub-Grade

TS 4 – No Sub-Grade

TS 5 – Sub-Grades A, B, B1

TS 6 – No Sub-Grade

TS 7 – Sub-Grades A & B

TS 8 – Sub-Grades A & B

from TS 9 through TS 19 each is assigned independent scales.

But the situation is compounded by a range of irrationalities: for example, firmly established are three levels of ‘Temporary’ appointments:

TS 2(A) – Temporary Unqualified Assistant

TS 2(B) – Temporary Qualified Master III

TS 2(C) – Temporary Qualified Master II

TS 3 – Temporary Qualified Master I

What a career prospect! It is possible to retire and be pensionable after a prolonged and meritorious temporary service!

But from amongst many irrationalities one hopes the Task Force would have forcefully addressed that obtaining in the Table below. Just reflect on the substantial differentials in compensation for discharging the same expected responsibilities.

Comparative Ranking of Heads and Deputy Heads in the same Grades of Schools

What is perturbing is that these disadvantaged educationists are the ones who lay the foundation for the development of future and current regional officials.

On the other hand teachers, like their public service counterparts, continue to be required to retire at age fifty-five years, despite the forceful recommendation of the CoI into the Public Service for implementing a retirement age of sixty-five years for public officers, and the current contradictory trend of recruiting other retirees into newly created positions, in full and conscious denial of the recommendation of the CoI into the Public Service for retirement at age sixty years.

Fortunately for some they can escape into education’s private sector before becoming eligible for an NIS pension.

Yours faithfully,

E B John

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