Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 June 2019

FNC members call for higher wages and incentives for Emirati teachers

Greater supervision was also discussed with the Minister of Education, Hussein Al Hammadi.
Hussein Al Hammadi, the new minister of Education, at the FNC session in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Delores Johnson / The National
Hussein Al Hammadi, the new minister of Education, at the FNC session in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // FNC members have called for better wages for teachers and greater supervision of them, while the Minister of Education has promised a new law to regulate salaries.

In a four-hour debate, council members told Hussein Al Hammadi that Emiratis were shunning the teaching profession because of poor incentives, low wages and an insufficient retirement plan.

A report by the FNC revealed the sorry state of public school teachers in the country, with Ali Jassim (Umm Al Quwain) noting that these problems have been around since the 1990s and have yet to be addressed.

FNC data shows that in 2010-2011, male Emiratis made up only 3.5 per cent of teachers in public schools, while female nationals made up 44.7 per cent.

A starting teacher at that time received a salary of Dh22,500 from the ministry. Those who work for the Abu Dhabi Education Council receive Dh40,000.

But wages have not been enough to attract Emiratis to the teaching profession, which for many has few opportunities for career advancement.

The job also has a negative connotation in the community and even with a Dh4,000 monthly stipend offered by the ministry to those pursuing a career in education, universities have reported low enrolment.

Mr Al Hammadi told the council these issues would be addressed, mostly with a new teaching licence system.

“I wish we got this report five months ago” when he was appointed, he said. “It would have helped us a lot.”

Licensing teachers would help to make them professionals. “Any person with a licence will be like a doctor, will be licensed to practise this profession,” the minister said.

The teachers’ licence would also mean that only those approved by the ministry would be allowed to work in schools.

The ministry was still working on a new evaluation system for teachers, Mr Al Hammadi said.

Expatriate teachers, particularly those working in Indian schools, faced their own issues. Sultan Al Shamsi (Ajman) said some were getting salaries as low as Dh1,800 and Dh2,000 in the Northern Emirates.

Mr Al Shamsi questioned a teacher’s skill level if they were accepting a salary that low. “We want the minister to pay attention to this problem and to set minimum wages for private school teachers,” he said.

“Who would accept such a low salary? Someone without enough experience.” FNC members also said low wages often led to greater abuse of pupils.

Dr Mona Al Bahar said a study found children’s second source of abuse was from teachers.

“This is a shock for me,” she said. “I’m not surprised though as the teachers we saw in the field have low salaries and work in a bad environment – but it is still not an excuse.”

Mr Al Hammadi said there were strict punishments in place for teachers using corporal punishment. He also promised members a new federal law would set a minimum wage for teachers, who would also have extra career paths and job restructuring to help address some of the issues.

Over the course of the discussion members started examining other aspects in the education system, with particular focus on the public sector.

osalem@thenational.ae

Updated: December 9, 2014 04:00 AM

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