Teachers continue to push for salary raise
The push for better salary packages from teachers remain on the table but they must follow more professional development, the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, said.
In congratulating teachers across the country for their continuous service on World Teachers Day, Minister Loau said he was open to the prospect of better pay but was also pushing for better quality teachers.
The annual celebration for this year is held in Savai’i and, for the first time, it is dedicated to young teachers who are the future of the profession.
Loau said "upskilling" teachers, capacity building and professional training was one step towards better salaries.
“The Government is trying to upgrade teachers’ qualifications from Certificates to Diplomas and Diplomas to Bachelor's by 2020,” the Minister told the Samoa Observer.
“As a result of this upskilling it will mean that teachers will have better pay and a higher qualification on their resume and these schemes are all covered by government.”
Teachers undergoing the upgrading scheme are attending National University of Samoa, Faculty of Education programme; others are taking part-time courses at University of the South Pacific.
The Ministry of Education has allocated $1 million from its $109.5 million budget for the current financial year to upskill teachers under the Teachers Higher Education Scheme.
In terms of pay scale, a Diploma holder in teaching will have an estimated salary of $17,000 to $20,000 while a Bachelor’s Degree will land a salary of between $25,000 - $30,000.
Teachers' salary grievances have long been high on the agenda at such conference.
Many claim they cannot survive on their current salary and many of their colleagues are opting to leave for better remuneration.
But the Minister emphasised that salary goes hand-in-hand with qualifications and skills.
He added the bulk of the Education budget which has among the biggest budget allocation every year is a testament to the Government’s commitment to education.
It is the Government’s goal that by 2020 all teachers will have a Bachelor’s Degree.
Until then, Loau said talk on salary will still be on the table but "upskilling" will be a major priority," he said.
“I am yet to receive a report on whether the upskilling of the teachers has contributed to the results of the students.
“They are the ones that have been entrusted to nurture future leaders of a country and without teachers there is no world.
“My message to teachers is to commit to their work, value your work as the learning lives of our young ones are dependent on you.”
He also thanked teachers for their hard work and contribution to the development of the country.
According to the Ministry of Education’s Statistical Digest Report 2018, there are 2867 teachers in Government, missionary and private schools.
The statistics show 15 per cent of teachers are in the Early Childhood Education (E.C.E.); 49 percent in primary and 36 percent in secondary schools.
Student to teacher ratios show there are 15 students per teacher in E.C.E., 30 students per teacher in primary and 20 students per teacher in secondary schools.