Scrutinising the teachers’ salary  structure

Scrutinising the teachers’ salary structure

The Ministry of Education and Training has after a long struggle finally managed to produce the long awaited career and salary structures for teachers. Now that the salary structure is finally here, it has been received with a lot of mixed emotions. There are teachers who are excited while there are those that feel hard done and discriminated by the Ministry.

Before I scrutinise the current career and salary structure I would like to go back to 2009 when teachers’ salaries and career structure was reviewed. Under the stewardship of Dr Mamphono Khaketla there was a salary and career structure. The career structure proposed several levels within the teaching fraternity to which teachers could be promoted to.
The levels or ranks ranged from assistant teacher right up to senior specialist teacher. The general understanding was that teachers would be promoted based on the qualifications they had attained or their number of years in the service.

Regrettably, the 2009 salary and career structure was not fully implemented as the promotions through the ranks were not affected. Most of the teachers and the teachers’ unions were not troubled by the lack of promotions. The main reason being they were just excited by the monetary component and did not find it necessary at the time to push the Ministry towards implementing the career component of the review.
The Ministry of Education also seemed disinterested in advancing the career of the teachers as it even put a policy that “discouraged” teachers from furthering their studies. This policy stipulated that remuneration would no longer be based on qualifications, rather it would be based on the job a teacher was doing.

Unfortunately, the oversight by the Ministry of Education, the teachers and their unions was amongst issues that came back to bite us last year. The 2019 teachers’ strike that wreaked havoc in the education sector was caused by among other things the poor implementation of the 2009 salary and career structure.
Now we are in 2020 and we have a new salary and career structure. From where I am standing, I am afraid we may repeat the same mistakes. The reason I think we are bound to go down the same crooked path with this new salary and career structure stems from the concerns that teachers are already raising even before the structure is implemented.

A sneak peek into teacher groups on social media platforms shows that, just like in 2009, even now teachers are only interested in ‘how much’ their increment will be. Teachers are not at all interested in the different levels within their career and how they can attain such positions.

Teachers are also not asking pertinent questions that the Ministry needed to have addressed a long time ago with regards to improving the quality of education. For instance Lesotho currently has around more than 7 000 qualified yet unemployed teachers. Yet the salary and career structure still indicates how unqualified teachers should be remunerated.

It is baffling that with the number of unemployed qualified teachers that we have we still have room to think about unqualified ones. It should be noted that I have no personal vendetta against unqualified teachers.
However, the Ministry of Education gave unqualified teachers an opportunity to get the right qualifications ten years ago. The proposal then was that within five years, starting from 2009, all teachers should get appropriate qualifications as failure to comply would mean they can no longer be accommodated.
It is now ten years later and they have not made any effort to get teaching qualifications. As such, my humble opinion is that there is no need to include them in the salary and career structure.

Instead of fighting for the professionalisation of their carer, teachers are now fighting among themselves for remuneration. There is even a tug of war between primary and secondary teachers. On the one hand, primary teachers are accusing their colleagues in secondary schools of being lazybones that the Ministry has favoured by giving a lot of money just for gossiping all day in the staffroom doing nothing.

On the other hand, the irate secondary teachers are accusing their primary colleagues of working very short hours and being incompetent as they have dubious qualifications which they got through engaging ghost writers to complete their assignments. These accusations and counter accusations are nowhere near ensuring that the teaching career is respected as the noble profession that it has been known for.
The teachers and their unions should now be fighting to ensure that the salary and career structures are implemented concurrently and that no one is left behind.

Kelello Rakolobe

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