No salary increase for these Dubai-based employees
Dubai - The decision was made following an announcement by the Dubai Executive Council.
School teachers have long been a vitally important constituency for the UAE as education forms a very important pillar of the country's growth and development.
Shortly after the Dubai Executive Council put a freeze on school fee hikes to ease the financial burden on parents of school-going children, the Emirate's biggest school education group GEMS announced it would freeze school teachers' salary hikes for the 2018-19 academic year. GEMS Education confirmed the news in a statement to Khaleej Times.
A spokesperson said: "The current move to hold salary increases is based on the recent school fee freeze decision. This is not an unusual measure to take in uncertain times. Our priority remains on providing quality education."
Teachers and sources revealed that school heads informed educators about its decision mid last week. The source said: "All teachers were called in for emergency meetings, informing them about the decision." However, the source also confirmed that school employees were given increments on a yearly basis, with an exception of the academic year 2008-2010, owing to the economic recession.
For most UAE- based teachers, the increments were anything from Dh240 to Dh4,000, in the case they got promotions. Teacher pay disparities continue to remain a hotly contested subject among people in the education sector.
Moreover, GEMS education also insisted that the cumulative salary increase for teachers is at 25-48 per cent when the Education Cost Index only increased by approximately 11 per cent. "In addition, we created 7,000 new jobs over the same period," added the statement.
Garrett O'Dowd, founder of Teach and Explore educational recruitment agency, said: "There seems to be a stagnation and reduction in salaries in some private schools in the UAE. And what's happening is there is a huge upturn in salaries in China and Asia, which is now being touted as more attractive and lucrative than the UAE in some sectors. This was not the case over the last number of years. The UAE was always the best paid when it came to expats. With more schools in Asia and China opening up and offering better salaries, the top talent (when it comes to teachers) may disappear from the UAE in the not so distance future."
Overworked, underpaid With only a few weeks left for the school summer vacation to begin, teachers like G.A. (name withheld at request) is busy wrapping up school portions, correcting answer papers, planning summer holidays homework schedules for students and managing their own families in the midst of everything.
She said: "Over the years, work in schools have increased. After regular school hours, we continue working for 4-5 hours more. Standards have improved. We need to constantly update ourselves as well."
She added: "For the hours of work we put in, the pay does not add up. The system needs to change. A lot of my colleagues have Masters degrees. They deserve more than just Dh5,000." Senior teachers are paid an average of Dh5,000 in a majority of schools in the country.
A few GEMS teachers Khaleej Times spoke to on this matter said on the condition of anonymity that they were disappointed at the group's decision. The basic salary of a KG teacher in the UAE ranges from anything between Dh3,000 to Dh12,000, varying from school to school and not just restricted to GEMS schools. One teacher from a GEMS Dubai-based Asian school said: "The last increment I received was Dh250. However, I have been receiving increments consistently every year since I joined.
"Our salaries are nothing in comparison to what our superiors earn. For example, after eight years of service, my salary is Dh4,300. However, my head of department earns Dh10,000 plus benefits."
Another Asian teacher said: "I've been working as a teacher for 17 years. My salary in the beginning was Dh1,400. Today, I earn Dh8,000. Things are rapidly changing, and younger, passionate teachers won't work as hard if they are not paid. So yes, the system needs to change."
GEMS Education has employed over 16,000 staff and education professionals and is one of the world's oldest and largest K-12 private education providers. Operating 47 owned and operated schools, and a further three managed in the Mena region, GEMS Education currently serves over 115,000 students.