By Joseph Varghese/Staff Reporter
Indian community schools in Qatar pay their teachers pathetically low salaries, although some of them charge up to QR1,500 as tuition fee per month from students, it is learnt.
Though the Supreme Council of Education (SEC) had announced plans to initiate steps to regulate employment of teachers in private schools nothing has been done so far.
A good majority of teachers in Indian expat schools draw about QR2,500 per month, while certified nannies are paid about QR3,700 on average in Qatar. The teachers are qualified professionals, many of whom are post-graduates with an additional degree in education.
With the new Indian schools that have come up recently charging higher fees than the existing ones and several schools hiking their fees from this semester, there is a growing demand to revise the salaries of the teachers.
An Indian school which started operations this academic year is charging QR1,500 per month as tuition fee but still pays teachers about QR3,000, sources said.
However, the school officials said there has been regular increase in the salary of the teachers, but the fact remains that the average salary in Indian schools remains in the range of QR2,200 - QR4,000.
Recently, 14 nannies who graduated from the Qatar Nannies Training Academy were offered salaries between QR3,000 - QR4,800. While nannies perform a very important task, teachers also deserve adequate compensation.
Most of the teachers in Indian schools have completed seven years of higher education, including five years of university programmes and one- two years of teachers’ training. Moreover, teaching is considered the noblest profession, which moulds future generations and many feel they should be paid accordingly.
Many community members felt that teachers deserved better salaries and perks. One of them said: “Many schools have started with very high fees so they must give higher salaries to the teachers. With the present cost of living and other expenses, the teacher’s salary must start from a minimum of QR 5,000.”
Director of a leading tuition centre said he paid around QR10,000 monthly to the teachers because ‘’it is important that they are paid well so that they put in their best efforts. Without paying well, we cannot retain good teachers.”
In addition to the salary, teachers feel that their perks and other allowances are not sufficient to meet the rising cost of living. “We get annual leave for two months but we get tickets only once in two years. Moreover, whatever allowances we get are deducted during the vacation period,” a teacher from a leading school said.
Another teacher said: “We are all paid so low that we have to depend on tuitions to make some extra income. In addition to the regular timing, we have to go to school on many weekends, and in the evenings too on certain days to attend a number of events. We also carry many of the routine work home but none of these is taken into consideration by the management.”
A community member said it was high time that the schools revised the salary structure of their teachers. He explained: “Except two or three schools, all the other Indian schools are charging high fees. But the salary structure in almost all of them is more or less the same. There is no reason for them to stick to the low salary scale. Several new schools collect three to four times more in tuition fee from students than some of the existing ones. So they must also pay the teachers in the same fashion.”
A parent said the schools are making good profit. “They are collecting fees under various heads such as special fee, caution deposit, development fee and many more. We also know the average tuition fees and the number of students in each school. For many schools, the government provides free water and electricity. Other than daily maintenance, the salary is the only expenditure for these schools and sadly it is very low.”
MES Indian School principal A P Sasidharan did not agree, though.
He said: “MES always takes care of the teachers. Ours is the lowest fee in the country but we are one of the best pay masters.”
Birla Public School principal A K Shrivasatva said the school hiked the salary of the teachers early this year. “Even before we got a fee hike approval from the Supreme Education Council, we had increased the salary of the teachers. On Teachers Day, we also gave a bonus to the teachers.”
Ideal Indian School principal Syed Shoukat Ali said the school increased the salary of the teachers early this year. “We know that we need to do more for the teachers. But our resources are limited and with the limited income, we are trying to help the teachers. Maybe, we will try for another increase this academic year.”
But sadly, all these schools pay less than QR3,000 to their teachers.
And the situation is not any better in other community schools in Qatar.
(The next article in the series on community schools will be published on September 28).