Teachers in Samoa told higher qualifications mean pay rises
Samoa's teachers are urged to improve their qualifications if they want to earn higher salaries.
Samoa's Public Service Commission chairman, Tu'uu Ieti Taule'alo, says most teachers in government schools need to upgrade their skills and teaching knowledge if they want higher wages.
This comes after teachers on Savaii island threatened strike action over unpaid salary increases and concerns about forced retirement at age 55.
Our correspondent, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, spoke to Don Wiseman following a press conference held by the chairman.
AUTAGAVAIA TIPI AUTAGAVAIA: The chairman of the Public Service Commission was calling on the teachers to improve their performance, getting more qualifications, getting a degree from the university, the National University here, and they will be able to improve their performance in teaching for children, and also to get a pay rise.
DON WISEMAN: Are many teachers in a position where they can give up their jobs and go back to school?
ATA: Yes that is another issue that the teachers are very concerned about. They are saying what time are they going to spend at the university for them to be able to get a degree and what time are they going to spend on teaching the children. They even say it is better for the PSC people to come and teach the children while all the teachers go attend and get their degrees.
DW: Are they absolutely ruling out rises unless people improve their qualifications?
ATA: They are not ruling out any pay rises but they want to rule out the old system where different ministries, in particular the Ministry of Education Sports and Culture would get a general pay rise for all the teachers, because the chairman was specific in saying that a general pay rise will benefit other teachers who are not doing their work well, who are not performing well.
DW: So some might get more. How will that go down?
ATA: Well you know it is very simple. The chairman was saying if you get a degree or a much higher qualification in teaching, like a BA or a Masters, you will be able to get more pay rises. And that's why he is saying the PSC is considering not to continue the practice of having a general pay rise for all the teachers because it will not make any improvement in the teaching of the children in the country.
DW: Now while all of this is happening there is a similar process underway in American Samoa where their teachers are going to be obliged to get four-year degrees when most of them only have two-year degrees at this stage, and while they are going back to school they are going to look to Samoa to fill the gaps in their schools. Are there spare teachers in Samoa?
ATA: The chairman of the PSC is ruling out the Teachers Association claims that there is still a shortage of teachers, and the chairman was using the current ration of one teacher per 20 students in the colleges and the high schools and one teacher per 30 students in the primary schools, and according to the chairman, that shows that there are enough teachers in the country. And you know you are saying about American Samoa's problem of wanting to get more teachers, well this will be for the benefit of American Samoa. If teachers here do not want to get degrees and they still want to stay with their diplomas of education, well, they can apply for a job in American Samoa.
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