Separate pay scale for teachers unlikely soonMohiuddin Alamgir
A separate pay scale for teachers during the current tenure of the Awami League-led government has become uncertain as it has done little in four years and a half to meet its election pledge of putting in place a separate salary structure for teachers, officials said.
‘We are trying to include teachers in the pay commission that has been place for government officials in place of a separate pay scale,’ said a high official in the education ministry told New Age on Friday.
The government is planning a permanent pay commission for public officials, the prime minister Sheikh Hasina said on Wednesday.
The commission will be recommending regular salary icnrease in keeping with inflation rate.
Asked about the uncertainty about a separate pay scale for teacher, the education minister, Nurul Islam Naid, however, said, ‘We will take necessary action in time for a separate pay scale for teachers.’
Teachers have been rallying for a separate pay scale for more than a decade and the Awami League’s 2008 election manifesto said, ‘A higher salary scale for teachers will be ensured. A permanent pay commission and a separate service commission will be instituted for teachers.’
The National Education Policy 2010 has also recommended a separate pay scale for teachers.
Educationalists said that a higher salary structure for teachers was crucial for a sustainable development of the education sector and for drawing meritorious students into teaching.
Ill-paid teachers barely make ends meet in Bangladesh. Low pay and benefits force the teachers to try to seek out means to earn extra money, their leaders said.
The education ministry set up a committee in early 2011 to work out on separate pay scale but the committee has till date only met once, on August 24, 2011.
The ministry officials told New Age that the announcement of a separate pay scale
for teachers was ‘uncertain’ as respective directorates have not sent the number of teachers and financial estimation in about two years, which the committee sought.
Two ministry officials also said that financing would be a great factor as nothing was said about the separate pay scale in the current national budget.
‘It is uncertain when the government will announce a separate pay scale because the committee has not held any meeting in about two years,’ said a committee member.
An official said that the ministry would need enough time to finalise the separate pay scale after the committee made their recommendations.
The National Front of Teachers and Employees chief coordinator, Quazi Faruque Ahmed, also a member on the committee, said that a separate pay scale was one of the main election pledges of the current government.
‘We raised the issue in 2001 at a meeting with the Awami League presidnet Sheikh Hasina and she agreed to the need for having a separate pay scale and promised that she would take action if she was voted to power,’ Faruque said.
Additional secretary of the education ministry SM Golam Faruque, also president of the committee, told New Age that they were taking an initiative regarding the separate pay scale for teachers. Golam Faruque, also the acting education secretary, declined further comments.
Both the education minister, Nurul Islam Nahid, and the primary and mass education minister, Afsarul Ameen, on several occasions in the past six months said that they would announce a separate pay scale for teachers soon.
Nahid said that the government had taken many initiatives for teachers as it decided to provide monthly pay order benefits for 1,214 teachers and maternity leave for teachers in non-government institutions for six months.
The government increased the house rent and medical allowance for teachers enlisted for the monthly pay order and upgraded the status of assistant teachers of government secondary schools to Class II.
There are about one million teachers between primary to higher education level in the country.
There are about 4 lakh teachers in 79,000 primary schools, including 63,860 government, and ibtedayi madrassahs,.
About 4.7 lakh teachers and employees of more than 27,000 secondary schools, madrassahs and colleges get MPO facilities. The government needs to spend about Tk 5,000 crore a year on the monthly pay order.
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