Evans: 15% salary subsidy an insult to Early Childhood teachers
VICE-PRESIDENT of the Jamaica Early Childhood Association (JECA) Devon Evans has described the announced 15 per cent increase in salary subsidy to basic school teachers across the island as an insult to teachers.
Responding to the announcement made by Education Minister Ronald Thwaites during his presentation in the sectoral debate on Wednesday, May 7, Evans said that the increase represents the "scant regard for basic school teachers".
"How long will the ministry continue to treat our teachers like underdogs while giving full recognition to those in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions?" he asked.
He told the Jamaica Observer that since 2007, basic school teachers have been pleading to the ministry for an increase in their subsidies, and that after waiting for seven years, they "have been handed a paltry increase of 15 per cent".
The salary subsidy is a monthly allowance given to basic school teachers in recognised basic schools, who have attained a certain qualifying standard. According to Evans it ranges from a low of $14,000 to a high of $25, 000 before tax deductions.
Evans, who is also chairman of the St Ann Early Childhood Parish Board, pointed out that "at most basic schools, the subsidy is the only income that teachers take home monthly, because the economic hardships are making it difficult for parents to pay school fees."
He said that the work of these teachers is equally or more important than other teachers in the education sector. Evans said that while the minister has repeatedly enunciated the important values of early childhood education, he is yet to demonstrate this in terms of budgetary allowance to the sector.
"The provision of quality early childhood education is a commitment the Government of Jamaica has made to its citizens, but its actions over the years serves only to create a disparity which favours only a few while the vast majority have been left almost abandoned," Evans stated.
Evans noted that since 2006, the Ministry of Education has been encouraging basic school teachers to upgrade themselves and that after spending thousands of dollars to acquire tertiary education, these teachers have not seen any improvement in their pay.
He said that while the minister was honest enough to admit that the subsidy is very low, "he needs to take into consideration that these people have been waiting for too long to get their just reward."
The JECA vice-president said he was hoping to see at least a 50 per cent increase to reflect inflation over the last seven years and to demonstrate the high regard that the minister claims to have for the early childhood sector.