WHEN the education ministry set up a committee in early 2011 work out a plan towards institution of a separate pay commission for teachers apparently in compliance with the Awami League-led government’s election pledge, it indeed raised high hopes among teachers in general and those, who have been organising movement for such a commission over the last decade, in particular. Regrettably, however, according to a New Age report on Monday quoting one of its members, the committee has met only once till date reinforcing the suspicion that a separate pay scale for teachers is unlikely to be in place during the current tenure of the government. Moreover, the respective directorates are yet to respond to the committee that sought the number of teachers working with the former and financial estimation almost two years ago. More importantly, the current national budget, the last one of the incumbent government, has no mention of the separate pay commission for teachers. One also needs to keep in mind that after the committee makes the necessary recommendations, the ministry will need enough time to finalise them.
Educationists have rightly pointed out in the report that a higher salary structure for teachers is crucial as far as a sustainable development of the education sector is concerned. In addition, such a step would play an important role in recruiting meritorious and efficient people as teachers, something largely absent in the sector resulting, among others, in the worrying decline in the overall quality of education. One cannot rule out the arguments made more often than not by the teachers’ leaders, while dealing with the allegations rampant for long that many of them usually remain busy most of a day doing anything but attending to their students, that low pay and benefits significantly contribute to this. What is more unfortunate is that such an unfortunate situation has been prevailing in the education sector despite the fact recognised by all quarters that education is the backbone of a nation and key to its achieving the goals, social and economic, within a particular period.
No doubt the incumbent government has taken so far a number of steps such as including some thousands of their colleagues in the monthly pay order scheme and hiking the amount of their medical and house-rent benefits for the welfare of non-government teachers in particular who make up the largest section of the people working at the education sector. But it can in no way redress the latter’s disappointment to be caused by the delay in making a separate pay scale for them a reality. The government is well advised to end reluctance, if any, at translating the words repeatedly given by the ministers concerned even in the last six months about establishing a separate pay commission for teachers soon.
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