What About The Teachers?!

By Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Wed 4 October / Oct 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Fahed Khitan

None of us is oblivious to the fact that the teachers’ status in Jordan isn’t the best; and this is an obvious understatement.

We all know it, but we won’t discuss it.

But Samah Beibars’ report, in AlGhad’s Tuesday edition, forces us all to put the teachers’ cause in the public sector up for discussion.

As far as reforms go, the Education Reforms programme is underway, and there is no backing from it now. A lot depends on it, the future of Jordan’s upcoming generations for one!

So far, we seem to be heading down the right track, be it in regards to the training and qualification of teachers or the development of curriculums and examination platforms.

However, there is the issue of wages, which is not being addressed.

Expectedly, at such a low income as the teachers’ it is only natural for them not to care. The truth is that, on average, they make less than the poverty line.

At best, teachers in the public sector make no more than JOD400 a month, studies show.

Now, how on earth do we expect teachers to dedicate themselves to their profession when their pays are not even enough to keep their own households afloat!

On a related note, the average teacher’s wage is very close to the salaries of most public sector employees.

That said, it may make it all seem “fair” somewhat, to some of you, but the truth is that it isn’t!

It goes without saying that the teacher’s part in society is far more important and exceptional than almost any function in the public sector, or private for that matter.

Teachers are the social catalysts of progress, and their efforts dictate the fate of millions in a future not so far away from now. Their role in building a society’s evolutionary and competitive capacities is instrumental.

If it isn’t for the teachers, we could not dream of successful doctors, engineers, or any professional in any field for that matter.

The better qualified teachers are, the better the output of the education process, obviously.

Meanwhile, no matter how much we try to develop the teachers’ professional capacities, none of it comes to close to the prospects of addressing their living and financial situation. For years their salaries have not upped the slightest!

Of course, there are additional bonuses and raises, but they are rarely ever of any real, tangible value or effect.

According to the latest income census in AlGhad’s report, 59 per cent of the teachers’ households make JOD9,000-14,000 annually, whereas 26 per cent of them make less than JOD9000.

Shockingly, only 14 per cent of our teachers in the public sector touch on middle income salaries.

This is the primary reason why teachers don’t bother much in class, as well as why private lessons have become so common. Not to mention the deteriorating performance of students in public school.

Conveniently enough, the World Bank (WB)’s study concludes that teachers in the public sector do not work hard enough. But as soon as the study began to discuss factors, causes, and solutions, it completely disregarded the issue of salaries.

I am completely discombobulated by the implicit assumption that their salaries are not a factor here!

We must not dismiss the facts.

As bad as we need performance enhancements and better oversight tools, not to mention professional development for teachers, we cannot just blatantly disregard their salaries!

Teachers need to make a relatively good living in order to have the energy to get up the next morning with the attitude and dedication it takes to teach.

Through the decades, Jordan’s single most important achievement has always been education. It is the pillar of our progress, and had it not been for our relatively advanced education system —compared to the region at the time— we would not have made it this far.

Ever since, our advancement has been by the hand and intellect of Jordanians.

When once our teachers made middle-class incomes, now many of them do not make enough to put food on their families’ tables!

At this precise and frail moment, we must devise the means to protect teachers from further descending into poverty.