The other day a principal of a school called me up on the phone. The person was looking for me to facilitate a donation to buy computer systems for the school lab. The conversation dragged for ages, and it was about things that did not concern the donation in anyway.
Teachers have become a burden to the government budget due to its sheer numbers. Teachers take home a salary slip that has a sum total of less than that of labor category staff at a so called indepedent institution of the government – such as the human rights commission; or other organs of the state such as the judiciary and the parliament.
I was reminded of a teacher who I bumped into on the street the other day – in fact, it was the teachers’ day. He had just come out of the teachers party, and I was waiting for my daughter to come out of the same premises where she had been to a friend’s birthday party. This particular teacher had done his teacher training, done his degree and his post graduate diploma and has served the nation for over 18 years, and on this day of celebration was complaining of having to take home much less than a fresh graduate would doing an administrative job in one of those divine commissions or one of the more sacred state bodies.
I tried to explain to him like a good samaritan, how the payroll of teachers was already a burden on the government, and how even a minor adjustement in teacher salaries could nose dive the country into a dark hole of debt for our children and their children. However, his complaints continued, how teachers were paid so low and were denied of even their legal right to overtime.
The teachers assosciation which was formed to represent teachers and advocate for the rights of teahcers is the leading member of the coalition that came into power after the February 7th resignation of President Nasheed. Their leadership is busy with the ongoing political crisis and the upcoming elections which will have to be won – for the sake of teachers, they will argue.
(to be continued)