-President Ali assures teachers amid ‘politically motivated’ GTU-led strike
-says they will be ‘prime beneficiaries’ of Guyana’s development by year-end
REITERATING the government’s commitment to improving the lives of all category of workers, President Dr. Irfaan Ali on Sunday highlighted several initiatives that were implemented to support the country’s teachers
The Head of State’s comments came after a week-long strike organised by the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU).
“We are committed to this task of building prosperity, but the task of building prosperity would not occur overnight …we have to work incrementally,” the President said during a live broadcast on his official Facebook page.
For the last few days picketing action has been consistent outside the Ministry of Education’s head office at Brickdam, Georgetown.
The strike action began last Monday and saw educators taking to the city’s streets, both in Georgetown and other parts of the country.
President Ali in the broadcast said that government has already announced a series of measures to improve the lives of teachers, nurses and other public servants and by the end of the year, much more investments will be announced, making educators the “prime beneficiaries of the development and advancement” of Guyana.
According to the President, in September 2020, the government invested $700 million to correct the scales used to calculate teacher’s salaries and increases.
Additionally, an allowance of $10,000 was provided to all teachers with a university degree.
“Not only are we giving this allowance to trained teachers and trained graduates, but we are making the opportunities to teachers available in their school to earn that degree through the GOAL scholarship programme, through online teachers training programmes, through the associate degree programme,” President Ali said.
“Every teacher in the system now has a free opportunity. The government is investing on their behalf so they can upgrade their skills,” he added.
In addition to this, the government is giving $6,000 to every teacher with a post- graduate diploma and has granted a $20,000 allowance to all teachers with a master degree.
Meanwhile, an allowance of $30,000 for educators with a doctoral degree was also granted.
“All of these allowances are not just granted in an environment in which there is no opportunity to achieve all of these degrees and added qualifications.”
Other incentives to support educators who work and live in remote areas were increased by 100 per cent, moving from $9,000 to $20,000 per month.
“We went further, we had a provision of more than 3,800 scholarships to teachers…to qualify themselves and earn a higher salary. We are incentivising the system, giving teachers an opportunity to empower themselves, while at the same time incentivising them to do better for themselves, incentivising them to do better for the teaching system.”
He reminded the nation of the government’s support in seeing that every trained teacher becomes eligible to become a senior mistress/master after six years on the job.
This, he said, allows for an additional $20,000 to be added to those educators’ salaries.
“In the course of this year, in the coming years, it will get consistently better and at a more rapid pace.”
He spoke about the ongoing distribution of $3.1 billion in grants to make teaching easier.
Further, the stipend for teachers in training at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) was also increased from $10,000 to $90,000 per month.
According to President Ali, the Ministry of Education has been implementing initiatives to make changes to the salary base of teachers by pushing more rapid promotions for educators.
“Two senior promotion cycles per year, so that’s more teachers that can be promoted and earn higher salary. A general waiver letter to allow teachers to travel abroad without collateral…So contracted teachers were given an across- the-board waiver so they can travel with ease,” he said.
In further outlining some of the initiatives undertaken by the government to support educators, President Ali highlighted ongoing discussions with commercial banks to establish a mechanism whereby teachers can access loans to support home ownership.
President Ali spoke of a need for fairness and for teachers to not allow themselves to fall prey to politically inspired motives.
“We have to be fair. We have to have a conscience. We can’t allow ourselves to be political pawns and this is all I ask. For us to be fair. For us to look at all we have done, for us to understand the commitment I have made.
“I can look every worker in the eye and say to them, we got your back, we are committed to you, we will bring prosperity to every one of your homes,” he added.
Last year, President Ali had held consultations with several educators. During that engagement, the Minister of Education Priya Manickchand and Senior Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh were present and heard the concerns of teachers.
Subsequently in November, the Head of State had announced increases to teachers’ salaries and other interventions.
These accumulated to a total of $1.9 billion.
Providing a scenario so persons could understand how the increases would apply, President Ali had said that a graduate Senior Mistress/Head of Department will now have their current salaries adjusted upwards from $243,069 to $262,917, and with the inclusion of the revision to education allowances, this represents an overall 12 per cent increase compared to the previous minimum salary paid to such persons.
In the case of a graduate Senior Assistant Mistress working in the hinterland, the current minimum salary was adjusted upwards from $223,232 to $243,076, and with the inclusion of the revision to education allowances and Remote Areas Incentive (RAI), this will represent an overall 16 per cent increase compared to the previous minimum salary paid to such persons.
Outside of salaries and allowances, all teachers who hold a substantive appointment as a Senior Master/Mistress or above, and are within three years of retirement and have not previously received a duty-free concession on a motor car, are entitled to a duty-free concession for a motor car up to 1500cc.