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In a recent turn of events that can only be described as a slap in the face to the noble profession of teaching, the Government of Guyana, led by President Ali, has announced a salary adjustment for teachers that is woefully inadequate and frankly, insulting. This decision, juxtaposed against the backdrop of the current teacher salary scale and the passionate outcry of Coretta McDonald, General Secretary of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), paints a grim picture of the value placed on educators in our nation.
The current salary scale for teachers in Guyana is already a testament to the underappreciation of educators and the President’s marginal increase announcement hardly seems commensurate with the effort and resources invested by teachers.
President Ali’s recent speech falls short of addressing the core issues. The adjustments, which range between a 10% and 17% increase for approximately 30% of teachers and the paltry $25,000 one-off bonus, are still a mere drop in the ocean compared to the rising cost of living and the demands placed on teachers. The President’s announcement of additional allowances based on educational qualifications still does not compensate for the years of stagnant wages and the ever-increasing workload and expectations placed on teachers.
GTU General Secretary, Coretta McDonald’s response to this announcement is a powerful indictment of the government’s approach. Her statement highlights the PPP government’s blatant disregard for the process of collective bargaining, a cornerstone of democratic engagement and respect for workers’ rights. The unilateral decision by the President, bypassing the GTU’s executive, is not only disrespectful but also undermines the very principles of fair negotiation.
McDonald rightly points out the hypocrisy in President Ali’s actions, contrasting his current stance with his previous advocacy for collective bargaining while in opposition. This flip-flop is indicative of a deeper issue within our political system, where promises and principles are often casualties of political convenience.
The GTU’s disappointment and dissatisfaction with the manner of the announcement are justified. The issue of debunching, pending since 2011, which would benefit all teachers, remains unaddressed. The President’s approach, which McDonald describes as “premature, insensitive, anti-working class, unprincipled,” is a clear indication of a government out of touch with the realities and struggles of its educators.
The paltry ‘bonus’ offered to teachers, in stark contrast to the larger grants given to others, is a clear indication of the low regard in which the teaching profession is held. It is a sad state of affairs when those entrusted with molding the future of our nation are treated with such disdain.
The President’s failure to utilize available funds for meaningful salary adjustments, as pointed out by McDonald, is a missed opportunity to truly invest in the nation’s education system. The lack of substantial investment in school infrastructure, teacher accommodations, and overall welfare is a glaring oversight.
The recent salary adjustment for teachers in Guyana is not just inadequate; it is a reflection of a broader societal issue where the value of education and those who deliver it is consistently underestimated. It is high time that the government recognizes the invaluable contribution of teachers and compensates them fairly. The future of our nation depends on it.