The Council of Pacific Education (COPE), an EI affiliated umbrella body of teacher organisations in the Pacific, condemns the pay cut and lowering of retirement age for teachers proposed by the Fijian government.
Fiji’s Public Service Commission has introduced a 5% pay reduction and compulsory retirement at 55 for all public servants as a cost-cutting measure and, they suggest, to offer employment to the young. Yet at the current level of supply and demand Fiji will run short of teachers without retiring any qualified teachers from service.
In light of this, COPE strongly urges the government to immediately review its policy on teachers trained by organisations whose qualifications are not approved by Ministry of Education or TPAF, the accreditation authority in Fiji. “Employing teachers who are improperly trained will have a serious bearing on educational outcomes for the country in the long run, while eroding the status of teachers in the country” said Govind Singh, Secretary General of COPE COPE believes any plan to reduce pay and introduce a sudden reduction in retirement age is ill-conceived; particularly at a time when many countries are extending the retirement age to get the maximum contribution from people who have been trained by the state at the cost of millions of dollars. Losing on investment in in-service training and experience to save a few millions is “being pound foolish and penny wise” says Singh.
COPE urges the Fiji Teachers Union and the Fijian Teachers Association to take a strong stand on any attempts by the government to implement policies that will undermine the world wide struggle of the teaching fraternity to uphold the ILO/UNESCO declaration on the status of teachers as the bench mark.
ILO/UNESCO recommendation 7 subsection 45 and 46 state that stability of employment and security of tenure in the profession are essential in the interests of education as well as in those of the teacher, and should be safeguarded even when changes in the organisation of a school system are made.
The recommendation also states that teachers should be adequately protected against arbitrary action affecting their professional standing or career.
“The government needs to seriously review its decision and have more consultations with the stake holders as all options to reduce government expenditure have not been exhausted.” said Singh.