The APNU+AFC administration has reportedly refused to honour a number of recommendations made by a Committee it set up to examine increases in salaries and other benefits for teachers on the grounds that it will put a strain on the national budget.
This is most unfortunate and was not dissimilar to a situation the PPP/C administration found itself in under the Armstrong Arbitration award which gave public servants an over 50% increase over a two-year period. The PPP/C administration had at the time no choice but to honour the award despite the fact that the economy at that time was put under enormous pressure.
The government has an obligation to give effect to the recommendations and should desist from advancing the argument of lack of affordability on the part of government. Our teachers deserve much more than they are currently earning. Even with the recommended increases, teachers’ salaries in Guyana remain significantly lower than what their counterparts earn in other Caricom countries. It is this huge salary gap that is responsible for the ‘greener grass syndrome’ where some of our best and more experienced teachers and other professionals leave our shores to offer their services elsewhere.
As one former PPP Member of Parliament during the difficult years of the Burnham regime once remarked in Parliament, ‘ if education is too costly, try ignorance.’