Abu Dhabi/Dubai: Teachers in private and public schools say their salaries are low and must be increased to give a fillip to the quality of education.

A principal and teacher from a leading Indian private school in Abu Dhabi feels that teachers are being less paid in most Indian schools in comparison to other international private schools.

"Most of our experienced teachers receive Dh2,500 per month. Teachers who have joined our school in the past one year however receive even less than that.

He feels that some action should be taken to resolve the issue of low salaries of teachers because it will have a negative impact on their output and subsequently on the quality of education in schools.

"Five years ago teachers were receiving a salary of less than Dh2,000 but since the Ministry of Education issued a circular with regards to not giving any teacher less than Dh2, 000 we try to abide by it," he added.

After one increase in salary throughout her 25 dedicated years as a geography teacher in a government school, a 45-year-old Bahraini still receives a salary of Dh 5,000. "I have children studying abroad and with this salary it is almost impossible to make both ends meet," she said.

A 36-year-old Emirati teacher A.Z, who teaches Islamic studies, science, mathematics and Arabic language in a government school, also complained about the lack of consideration and poor salary conditions for Emirati teachers across the UAE.

"None of my younger siblings have graduated from university. I am the only one who graduated from Emirates University and have been working since I was 25 years old. Yet because I chose teaching as a profession, ironically, I am the least paid among my sisters and brothers," said A.Z.

In her former teaching position, S.A who works for an Indian school, received less then Dh2,000 a month which she recently discovered is below the minimum wage set for teachers by the Ministry of Education.

S.A. now works for another Indian private school on a salary of Dh2,500 saying, "Sadly, nowadays teaching is becoming a humiliating job. Almost every other profession will provide you with better salaries that are at least on par with the rise in living standards.

"Dubai is facing a shortage of teachers, they [schools and authorities] must understand that graduates are no longer interested in this profession because it is not financially rewarding."

An official from the Abu Dhabi Education Zone who wished to be unnamed admitted that a salary of Dh2,000 is way too low. "There are some private schools whose fees are very low and they cannot afford to pay their teachers more than Dh2,000. There is nothing we can do about that," said the official.

Abdullah Mesabih, Executive Director at the Ministry of Education, refrained from expressing his opinion about the minimum wage set for teachers but said, "The ministry is studying the matter and will consider overhauling the entire education sector by law including teacher's salaries."

Mum on pay structure

In the UAE, most international schools said they have an organisational policy not to reveal their employee salaries to the media.

The data provided cannot be exclusively representative as the salary of teachers varies from one school to another.

Furthermore, some of the data collected were from individual interviews conducted with teachers, who all wished to remain anonymous.

Salaries also depend on the qualifications, experiences and responsibilities of the teacher. As for public schools, the salaries for both UAE nationals and expatriates follow a fixed outline structured by the Ministry of Education.

Monthly salaries in UAE

  • Dh2,000 - Dh6,500 in Asian schools (Majority of schools)Minimum wage is Dh2,000
  • Dh4,000 - Dh8,500 in private Arabic schools
  • Dh6,000 - Dh18,000 in high end private international schools

Public schools:

  • Dh13,000 -Dh18,500 for UAE nationals
  • Dh2,850 -Dh8,000 for expatriates

Wages abroad

  • Dh12,000 - Dh14,000 schools in US (without tax)
  • Dh12,000 - Dh20,000 schools in UK (before tax)

Have your say
How do you think low salaries influence the quality of education at schools? Are low salaries responsible for discouraging the youth from considering teaching as a viable career option? Tell us at letter2editor@gulfnews.com or fill in the form below to send your comments.

Your comments

Professionally, I am a teacher but now working in an office. Last month I went for an interview at two different schools. They asked me to pay for a labour card. Still some schools are charging labour card fees and the first three months they will pay Dh1,500 only.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 14:12

Definitely teachers must be put on a grade structure here. In India, teachers are well paid and they are more motivated and really working hard to bring the education of the school higher.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 13:43

It is pathetic to see how the teachers in schools, especially Indian schools, are paid. I even heard that the school bus drivers are paid better than school teachers. The teachers cannot be blamed for the quality of education they impart as they really need a boost in their salary levels to be in a good mental frame of mind and impart quality education to the kids.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 13:13

Teaching is the noblest among all professions; teachers serve as a second parent for our children. They deserve to have high salary for their dedication and hard work. Many teachers leave their profession because of poor salary with the rising of the cost of living now a days.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 12:12

Increasing salaries will not guarantee a better quality of education! That is my opinion. But its is about time that teachers get paid better than what they get now. But if the ministry agrees to increase the salary and makes the minimum to 3000 Dhm. The schools will cope with that from our pockets, that is increase the fees.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 12:11

Low salaries "No doubt about that" its is directly proportional to the out put. To be frank most of the teacher are working to kill the time. If one is paid well he or she will be definitely interested to give more rather than finding alternatives to meet the requirements.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 12:08

An adult would prove that most schools, especially those belonging to big business Groups are rolling in profit. It is not justifiable that they do not pay well. The schools should be made to pay well without increasing the fees. Bus Conductors who do a very important job as far a parent is considered are paid a pittance like Dhs 900! You cannot live with a 1985 mindset and live in 2008.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 12:05

I would say this is quiet enough for the teachers because many earn nearly 2500 or more from private teaching, given to their own students, in addition to monthly salary. They may give an excuse that they do private teaching because of low salary. But it is not true. Almost 90% of students go for tutoring to the same teachers who teach them in the class. Some go for 3 or 4 tutors. So, I would say there is no need for increase in wages for them.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 12:05

I have 2 kids in a famous school in Dubai. They are in the 1st and 2nd grade. You would think their homework is not a big deal, but honestly, my wife spend countless hours helping them with their home work, i.e. you would need additional full time teacher at home. The point is, quality is not that great as it is suppose to be. This maybe due to teachers salary to some extent but the population density and the high demand for qualified teachers and the lack of them are the reason. Yes, increasing salaries would attract more qualified teachers, so the solution would be increasing teacher salaries but without impacting (at least directly proportional) the tuition paid by parents.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 11:57

Who says the fees in private schools are less? I am paying a quarterly fee of Dhs 3700 for my daughter studying in grade-2 in a private school in Dubai. And well qualified teachers in the same school just get in the range of Dhs 2000-3000 per month. How you can justify low salary given to the teachers? The government authority should wake up and do something about the low salaries. Otherwise one would prefer to be a secretary in an office rather than a teacher in a school?
Posted: May 18, 2008, 11:39

I don't think the low salary will affect the quality of education, but teachers deserve more salaries as most of the schools are giving only Dh. 2,000 or 2, 200 monthly, it is very low, considering the qualification required for teaching jobs. On the other hand even office boys are getting more than what teachers are getting now. So my suggestion is teachers salaries should be revised according to their qualification.
Abu Dhabi,U.A.E
Posted: May 18, 2008, 11:17

I am a university lecturer and what they pay is only AED 125 per hour as a part-time lecturer. This barely matches the skill sets one has to deliver.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 10:16

I am a graduate and always desired to work as a teacher but when I came to know about how low wages are being paid to teachers in Dubai I just dropped the idea. What is the use of spending more than 5 hours teaching dedicatedly and just receiving a meager sum of Dhs 2000 for your hard work.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 10:06

Surely the low salary will affect the quality of teaching. Qualified teachers will not come forward to teach the children. Authority should take action
Al Ain,UAE
Posted: May 18, 2008, 09:56

As if this report is going to make a big difference. Nothing's going to be done about it. I've been reading this report annually for the last decade and it?s a ritual: report gets published, some teachers complain, Ministry makes statement that 'its studying it' and that's it. Nothing ever gets done. It?s a monopoly and it'll stay a monopoly. Sorry for stating the obvious.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 09:51

Teaching, as they say, is a thankless job. Whereas it should be the most thankful job. Because of our teachers, we are what we are.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 09:39

I completely agree with teachers on how low their salaries are, compared to any other profession. A way of resolving this, is for the MoEY (or ADEZ, KHDA) to provide 'a government reward 'pay' on top of the school income of all minimum salaried teachers taking into account their schools cannot pay them more because of their low fees.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 09:29

Most of the schools demand Post Graduate Teachers with Teachers Training. In UAE, a driver is earning more than AED 2500 - 3000. Not only that most of the schools are not providing employment visa and many teachers are working on husbands visa. If we compare teacher?s salary with their qualification, they are the lowest paid category in UAE. Nobody can expect quality output from any unhappy employee.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 09:13

Teachers are highly qualified and they are the least paid in the country. Definitely this will affect (if it has not already affected) their teaching standard. One of my friend's child is studying in a famous school and the teacher gives everything as homework. Parents should teach the children. If teachers' salaries increased, they would take care and teach students very well. A strict law should be enforced to increase the salary as per the conditions in the UAE as the school fees have increased above 20 per cent.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 09:07

This issue has cropped up several times since I started working in the UAE 12 years ago. The young generation is reluctant to take up teaching as a profession, the simple reason being the salary scale. I have personally known many teachers who have renounced their teaching jobs and joined the corporate sector. It is time the authorities heed the call of society and ensure a better future for the new generation.
Posted: May 18, 2008, 08:48

Low salaries definitely influence the quality of education. Even though education is treated as a service, the real motives behind the institute and the teachers are financial in nature. So, if the teachers are not properly paid, definitely there will be a compromise in quality. It will gradually make the teaching profession less attractive, then qualified people will never go for that profession. This will have a direct impact on the quality of output. I was a teacher and am now working as an accountant.
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: May 18, 2008, 08:48