UAE | Education

Teachers at GEMS unhappy with pay increase

Discontented teachers from GEMS schools like Our Own English High School (OOEHS) in Sharjah and Dubai say the Dh100 to Dh250 increments they've received amount to mocking their hopes of a better pay structure.

  • By Anjana Sankar, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 June 15, 2010
  • Gulf News

Students arrive for class at Our Own English High School
  • Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/Gulf News
  • Students arrive for class at Our Own English High School in Oud Metha. The school is owned and managed by GEMS.
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Dubai: The fuss over an increase in school fees made by GEMS in order to increase their teachers' salaries has turned into a farce, their teachers have complained, after the management announced paltry salary increases.

Discontented teachers from GEMS schools like Our Own English High School (OOEHS) in Sharjah and Dubai say the Dh100 to Dh250 increments they've received amount to mocking their hopes of a better pay structure.

Six GEMS schools announced a 10 to 15 per cent increase in the tuition fee last month after they received permission from the Ministry of Education despite the Knowledge and Human Development Authority's (KHDA) freeze on school fees in Dubai this year.

"The school has hiked its fees by Dh80 - Dh100 per month. The total strength of our school is around 7,600. The school would thus rake in a minimum of Dh650,000 every month. Out of around 350 teachers, more than 300 would get a ‘hike' of Dh200 and around 25 would get Dh650. That brings the expenses of teachers' salaries increasing by a maximum of Dh80,000 per month. Parents were told that the increase in fees is in order to pay the teachers," said a teacher from Our Own English High School, Sharjah who requested not to be named.

"I do not understand how the management expects us to accept this increment to our already meagre salary of Dh2,650 to Dh2,900 per month. We all had high hopes that the school will offer us a substantial increase after they fought it out with the authorities to get approval for fee increase," said another teacher from Our Own English High School, Dubai.

A primary school teacher with around five years of experience, she has received a Dh200 increment. Teachers in grades above grade 10 are offered an increment of Dh650.

No complaints

Responding to complaints raised by teachers, Richard Forbes, Director of Marketing and Communication at GEMS Education, said most teachers are happy with the increments.

"The facts are that the average teacher's salary at OOEHS has increased by 28 per cent over the past three years. In 2008, teachers received a 20 per cent increase in salary despite there being no fee increase to cover this expense. Not one of the 310 teachers at OOEHS has approached the principal over the past two weeks to complain about the salary increase. The principal of the school says that the majority of teachers were very happy with the salary increase," he said.

In his ardent pleas to the authorities for the restructuring of fees, GEMS Chairman Sunny Varkey had said that old Asian schools like OOEHS that charge an average of Dh5,000 annually as fees are losing their teachers to new schools that charge an average of Dh15,000 as fees.

Pointing out a 30 per cent disparity in the allowed fee increases and operational costs in the last six years, he said the schools are driven to breaking point if more funds are not permitted.

"Our current fees do not now accurately reflect the cost of providing the education your children deserve and will need to rise this year. This (fee increase) will help us retain our best teachers because we will be in a stronger position to increase their salaries," GEMS stated in the circular issued to parents a few weeks ago explaining the need to raise fees.

A group of teachers from OOEHS, Sharjah wrote to Gulf News stating that "the sole purpose of increasing school fees as mentioned by the GEMS to the parents was to motivate the class teachers by offering decent revision to the wages, which would have a positive impact on the educational standards". However this little increase after three years is certainly unacceptable and disappointing."

Asian schools teachers are among the lowest paid in the market with the minimum salary fixed at Dh2,500 by the Ministry of Education. Many parents who spoke to Gulf News said teachers are overburdened and disgruntled and it is adversely affecting the quality of teaching in schools.

Does a low salary lead to poorly motivated teachers? How does this affect the quality of our children's education?

Comments (69)

  1. Added 18:36 June 15, 2010

    MOE & in these schools are locally appointed (HusbanKHDA please look into this matter and take immediate action. Minimum salary should be set to 4000AED or above plus all other incentives such as yearly Air-Ticket & House rent allowance. Grade 1 to 10 teachers and Grade 11 & 12 teachers are all the same and should be considered as one, especially during salary hikes. It is these Grade 1 to 10 teachers who mould these children as what they are. Main income of any schools come from these 1 to 10 Classes. 80% of the teachers d's Sponsorship), for which they do not get yearly Air Ticket or House Rent Allowance. What's the management doing with these money? It's ultimately the future generation who is going to suffer. We Mr. Richard Forbes can try to handle any class from 1 to 10 for just 10 days, then come up with suggestions from the heart. Moral: "We are not beggars, we are Teachers for God sake."

    L. A., India, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 18:23 June 15, 2010

    All Teaching & Non Teaching Staffs Salary must be increased considerably to match with cost of living. They must be able to stay in one room after paying electricity, water & housing, food & other basic needs. This equalls nearly 5000/- per month & not 2000 per month. KHD must focus on Teaching & Non Teaching Staff's benefits & Salaries. No teaching staff will give complaints to management or labour since much of the teachers does this job as free service.

    william, Dubai, India

  3. Added 17:30 June 15, 2010

    This unhappy lot of teachers who have expressed the comments in here will only add to the bring down the standard of Education in Gems Schools. Either they have to be motivated by the management or they have to look at employing fresh post graduate teachers who will really want to work hard at the existing pay-scale. What say ?

    Siju George, Sharjah, Afghanistan

  4. Added 17:26 June 15, 2010

    Yes, education has turned a business, not only here (wher it is an LLC!! ) but everywhere. Less paid teachers pay less attention to curriculum; let the parents shoulder the rest. ( One last doubt- there are many teachers with more than 10 yrs experience in some schools- why they haven't left the job? surely there should be something which attracts them to it - enjoy it ) We chose our destiny and complaints will last till we last.

    H THOMAS, shj, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 17:22 June 15, 2010

    Please try to increase the salary of the non- teacheing staff,,last year itself they didnt receive any incriment,they r working from morning 6 to evening 5 o clock,they are also working for school,they are cleaning the school,take care of the pupils etc,please consider this,they are also human being.

    kuttu, dubai, Afghanistan

  6. Added 16:19 June 15, 2010

    its not new that teaching is least payed profession , n joins teaching, who don get even a basic job, and all those who r not happy should resign immediately, management is right........ if some who the school business is effected , any thing can be done to do good business....

    george, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 15:19 June 15, 2010

    Its obvious the management wanted to increase the fees and keep it for themselves and not share with the teachers..it was just an execuse to increase the fees. teachers' job are most underpaid. even drivers earn better then them..its a disrespect for the teachers..they should protest against the school management..

    Veejay Bhatia, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 15:18 June 15, 2010

    I totally agree with Mani's comment. My wife is also a teacher in GEMS group (IGCSE Syllabus) and they are not at all happy with their salary and when they approach the management, they say that if the teachers are not happy, let them resign and look out for a job in another school. Come on Mr.Varkey and team - let the teachers also enjoy a decent life... For god's sake please offer them a decent salary.... Just keep in mind Mr Varkey and team, good teachers are the main attraction for the parents and if you loose them ...... you are going to have it....

    Nagesh, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 15:02 June 15, 2010

    Once when the Ministry told to make the minimum salary Dhs 2000/- the teachers air tkt which they were getting once in 2 years were cancelled. Do you have any justification for this? If you increase the salary, you are trying to adjust it from some other way were it will not effect your profits. You should think that your main goal is to provide education and not profit making. Are you paying anything extra to teachers who spent a lot for making study materials and other things, they are spending from their own pockets just because they are afraid of losing their job if they ask for re-imbursement. This is real experience which I have faced.

    KG Kumar, Mumbai, India

  10. Added 14:51 June 15, 2010

    It is a very sad story to hear that teachers are paid so low. A teacher who expects nothing but gives her best from the depth of her heart to produce a quality generation. would keep laying foundation for engineers & doctors but none would turn back to uplift her. she stands the whole day in the school and back at home she has to finish all the preparation for the following day, correction, etc. she is all worthy to be paid a reasonable salary. KHDA has to set a standard salary scale for all teachers. lets hope for the best

    Solomon Raja Samue, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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