Margaret Wise (Fiji Times)
IF we are serious about education, then the first step would be to make the teaching profession more attractive to high school students by paying more, Fiji Teachers Union General Secretary Agni Deo Singh has said.
The best students would be drawn to the profession if they saw value, he said.
Mr Singh was responding to a report last week that a student, who scored three out of 100 in the Year 13 Mathematics external exams had become a primary schoolteacher.
“The question here is, what kind of students are we attracting for this very important job of educating our children? If we are striving for quality education then one of the three basic pillars is we need quality teachers. We should be attracting top notch students from secondary schools and we can only do that if the job has an attractive remuneration. You get what you pay for,” he said.
Mr Singh said that in 2015, the salary level of first year teachers was reduced to that of unqualified teachers. This was restored last year later after much pleading.
But the teacher intake ceased.
“Certificate level intake was removed, but the diploma level teachers’ pay was reduced to the certificate level pay and those with degrees were paid the diploma level pay. Salaries were downgraded. What is the message we are sending to students when the pay reflects the value we place on the profession? Is it as important a profession as we claim it to be?”
Mr Singh added, “When you want quality education, you can place all the support systems you want, but you have to begin with paying them well, training them well and keeping them motivated.”
He made similar statements at an Education Forum held in Nadi.
Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy said that a good salary would motivate teachers and that the government “has always ensured that this area is looked at favourably.”
While talking about key variables that contribute to job satisfaction of teachers, Dr Reddy said that his Ministry looked forward to “adopting measures over the next four years to enhance teachers’ job satisfaction as it will contribute positively towards effective delivery.”
Agni Deo Singh