Teachers’ career, pay structure finally approved

 

NEO SENOKO

MASERU – A series of teachers’ strikes that have crippled the education sector since February 2019 could be over after government approved new career and salary structures that comes with a pay raise of between 3.5 and 6 percent for teachers across the board.

The new salary structure will come to effect in April 2020.

A 6 percent increase is for the lowest paid teachers so that they are brought at par with others in the same category while the rest will enjoy a 3 percent increase.

However, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has earlier this week warned Lesotho against increases in wages, citing that it could risk crowding out essential development programmes over the short term by eating into capital expenditure.

But the ministry emphasized in an interview with Public Eye this week that the new career and salary structure for Lesotho was actually approved in December 2019 but had to wait for final clearance from Ministry of Public Service.

Teachers have been protesting for most of 2019 demanding a salary increase of eight percent, as well as improved working conditions. Government said, however, that it could not afford an eight percent increase, prompting teachers to go on a prolonged strike.

The Ministry of Education Principal Secretary Dr Thabiso Lebese confirmed in an interview with Public Eye yesterday that teachers will take home improved salaries in the 2020 financial year.

This is the first increase in more than a decade.

The increase could bring final end to a series of strikes that rocked the country since 2019, resulting in poor performance in both Junior Certificate (JC) and LGCSE results.

The 2019 JC performance dropped from 65.5 percent in 2018 to 62.4 percent in 2019, registering a 3.1 percent decline. A total of 5629 students, 37.6 percent of students who sat for the JC examination failed.

For LGCSE, the general performance dropped sharply from 72 percent in 2019 to a staggering 64 percent in 2019.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Kotiti Liholo had said shortly after the results were published that the poor results can simply be attributed to a prolonged teachers’ strike that started in February and ended in September 2019. Students did not have enough time to prepare for examinations.

“A new structure for both primary and high school teachers has been cleared and approved by the Ministry of Public Service. So they will get a new structure before the end of this week or early next week,” Dr Lebese confirmed in an interview with Public Eye yesterday.

The development comes after news emerged that the World Bank had blocked the implementation of the new salary structure for Lesotho but the ministry said the World Bank could not make a decision for Lesotho regarding teachers’ salary structures.

The Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) had already communicated to the World Bank questioning their interference on the matter.

“We know that they wrote to the World Bank and that was unnecessary by that time we were already finalising the new structure. The bank is not in position to influence such issues, particularly when government has already made a decision.

“They are just a watchdog advising government on certain issues. With this one, the decision has been made and they cannot prevent it,” Lebese added.

On Tuesday this week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to Lesotho warned that further increases in wages of government workers, already among the highest in the world compared to the size of the economy, was risky for the economy.

“…the only sustainable basis for higher public sector wages over the long run would be a stronger and more vibrant private sector, which could provide the necessary tax base,” the IMF mission added in a statement.

The IMF mission visited Lesotho from January 29 to February 11.

 

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