Teachers have received more than a 50% salary increase since 2015 -says VP Jagdeo

Teachers have received more than a 50% salary increase since 2015  -says VP Jagdeo

Maintaining that the current teachers strike action is political, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo today went on the attack, as he sought to explain why teachers are being unreasonable in some of their demands.

The strike has moved into its fourth day with thousands of the nation’s teachers putting their chalk down while trying to get the government to the table to negotiate with their union, the Guyana Teachers Union, on a multi- year agreement which was submitted since 2020. The agreement covers salary and non-salary benefits for teachers.

During a press conference today, Mr. Jagdeo said he has taken note of the teachers reminding the PPP government that it had promised to increase their salaries by 50%. 

He said from the 2015 salary levels to now, teachers have benefitted from more than a 50% increase.

“And teachers have gotten from the 2015 level more than the 50% increase. But under this government alone, graduate teachers have gotten about 33-35% increase since we got into office—the skilled teachers. The objective has been to ensure that more and more teachers go into the skilled category so that we have better quality education,” Mr. Jagdeo said.

The Vice President said the focus of the Government has been to improve the education sector generally, adding that while the Administration acknowledges the work that teachers do, the ultimate goal in the education sector is to ensure quality education for the nations children. 

He said the rehabilitation of several schools, as well as the building of new ones, not only benefits students but also teachers. He called on teachers to examine the totality of benefits they would receive, boasting that over 10% of the national budget goes to the education sector.

“The focus has been on several things, on better working conditions for teachers generally and for students because ultimately it is about the students, the education of our children, teachers are just one component of this, an important component and we appreciate the work teachers have been doing across this country, they have done a great job with our children ultimately the goal is to have a better education for our children,” the Vice President noted.

But the Vice President said there is a developing problem in the education sector which the government will now be paying closer attention to, that is the high rate of absenteeism of teachers from the classroom daily.

According to Mr. Jagdeo, the record shows that over 4,000 teachers are absent from work daily, which he said is unacceptable and will not be allowed to continue.

Jagdeo said when records were examined, it was found that a large number of teachers do not show up for work daily and that puts the burden on other teachers.

“On a daily basis, only 70% of our teachers show up to work, so it means 4,228 of teachers of the 14,000 don’t show up daily, because only 70% show up to work, so we have to examine this carefully. So, we have to examine this carefully, because we are hearing about 6000 teachers striking now but of 4,228 don’t show up on a daily basis, then there is a big problem, because the state is investing more, its paying for the teachers, its putting in a huge sum of public money in the education sector for teachers and what’s happening?” the VP questioned.

The Vice President did not provide the source of his information, and neither did he provide details on absenteeism of teachers by school, education district or region.

Teachers across the country have been on strike since Monday. The Education Ministry and several Government Ministers have been on a public relations blitz since the strike started, attacking the union representing the teachers and some of its leaders.

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