DUBAI // It’s not just the extra money – it’s the recognition that the job we do is vital to building the nation’s future.
That was the reaction of many teachers yesterday to the announcement that 7,782 staff at government schools run by the Ministry of Education will receive a promotion and a pay rise.
Teachers in Dubai and the Northern Emirates said they felt as if their hard work and dedication had finally paid off, the prestige of their profession had been raised and more Emiratis would be encouraged to consider careers in education.
“Everybody in the school is very excited,” said Aziza Yousef Al Mulla, principal of Fatima Bin Outba School in Fujairah. “We have waited for this for so long. It is a late surprise but it has come.”
Ms Al Mulla said she had yearned for government acknowledgement for every one of her 28 years in the profession. “It is not the salary that makes a difference. Money comes and goes. What I really need is for my country to appreciate the effort I have made for the pupils.”
The order was issued on Saturday by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, after a directive by the President, Sheikh Khalifa, to raise the basic pay of federal government employees by 35 per cent. Teachers will also receive a technical allowance as part of their existing work allowances.
The measures will cost the Government Dh368 million a year. The Ministry of Finance is reworking budgets to incorporate the new salaries.
Dr Ali Saeed Al Kaabi, assistant dean of Student Affairs and Supporting Graduates at the College of Education at United Arab Emirates University, said the increased salaries would persuade more young Emiratis to consider the profession.
“A teacher’s work never ends at 2pm, as may be the case in other jobs,” he said. “Yet they are paid much less and, therefore, Emiratis prefer those other professions.”
He said the initiative underscored the importance the country placed on education and teachers. “This will certainly have a positive effect in encouraging more Emiratis, especially men, into the field.”
Emirati teachers in state schools are paid Dh16,000 a month, other Arab teachers between Dh6,000 and Dh8,000.
One Arab teacher of English at a government school in Ras Al Khaimah said they had received an increase of between Dh1,500 and Dh2,000 in January, but it was not enough. “I am not sure if these are new increases because we got one in January. Even that does not help cover the ever-growing expenses here.”
Another teacher at a boys’ school said he would be Dh10,000 a month after the increase. “We do not complain, but of course the financial strain we are under ultimately affects our work.”
Dr Al Kaabi, who has studied teacher attrition, said the pay rises rewarded seniority and good work, but education officials must also ensure a steady career path for teachers that recognised different levels of qualifications, experience and progress.
“Right now, contracts for teachers are the same and are not based on their qualifications and experience,” he said.
“More benefits to those who perform should be considered as way to motivate all teachers to put in their best.”
Ghada Al Mulla, a history teacher at Asma Bin Al Numan High School in Dubai with 10 years’ experience, said the new promotions should not be a one-off.
“It’s a great first step by our rulers and all the teachers are very happy,” she said.
“But such promotions must be reviewed on a constant basis by the ministry, so that we move up in the education field as is the case with other jobs.”