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M450 million for teachers



MASERU – THE new salary structure for teachers will cost the government a staggering M450 million to implement, thepost can reveal.
The cabinet has already approved the proposal which, apart from jerking up salaries, will also include a major shake-up of the career and organisational structure in the education sector.
Documents seen by thepost show that there will be a general increase in the salary of teachers, principals and early childhood development teachers.

The entry salaries for all positions have also been increased as have the notches. For the past two weeks the government has been battling to see where it can get the money to fund the new structure.
The numbers are not lining up, according to some sources that have been involved in budget sessions for the next financial year.
The World Bank has since advised that the increases will balloon the government’s wage bill which is already dangerously huge for Lesotho’s economy.

The Ministry of Finance has repeatedly warned that the wage bill is getting out of hand and saddling a government that is already in a financial squeeze.
Still, the government is implementing the structure to placate teachers who have been embarking on intermittent strikes for the past year over salaries, promotions and work conditions.

The Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Dr Thabiso Lebese, told thepost last night that the plan is to implement the structure in phases in line with the government’s financial means.
He said current indications are that the structure will be implemented over the next three years.

“But it could be four or five years depending on the government’s financial capacity,” Dr Lebese said.
He said at the moment the government is looking at budgeting an additional M200 million for the structure.
“It doesn’t mean the amount will be allocated in equal proportions over the next three years. It will depend on the resources,” he said.
“So there are discussions over whether it will be M150 million in 2021 and then M100 million in 2022. It could be the other way round but the point is that it will not be in equal proportions.”

Dr Lebese said the government has looked at the two options presented by the consultant hired to work on the proposal.
The first option, he said, is to have a new structure without a general increase in salaries.
The second was to have a new structure and award an average 3.5 percent increase for all teachers.
“We opted for a new structure with an increase but we will implement it in phases because there are serious budget implications”.

Dr Lebese said a survey by the same consultant also revealed that Lesotho’s “teachers are not as lowly paid as they claim”.
“The survey showed that our teachers are better paid than their peers in countries like Kenya, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia. They were comparing countries of similar economic status.”
“One of the most shocking finding was that compared to the size of its economy Lesotho is paying ten times more than what it should ideally afford.”

Part of the M450 million will be used to fill vacancies especially at principal level. Lesotho had to hire about 1 450 principals for both primary and high schools.
Under the structure the starting salary of a high school principal will increase from M164 000 to M247 000.
The highest notch will be M306 000 up from M296 000.
Their deputies will start at M197 000, up from M167 000 and their highest notch will be M247 000.

The starting salary of a senior specialist teacher who will now be known as a senior teacher III will be M197 000 and after earning call notches he will earn M297 000. They used to start at M231 000.
Senior teacher II, formerly specialist teacher, will start at M188 000 and their highest notch will be M227 000. An ordinary secondary teacher will start at M119 000, up from M95 000 and could earn as much as M143 000 after all notches.

Staff Reporter


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