Longman Publishing

Longman Publishing


 

Teachers' Job Amenities in the Developing world: A precursor for peak school perfomance in Uganda




In most cases, head teachers and members of the school management committees of schools in the developing world think that enhancing student performance in schools is strongly linked with hiring high quality teachers especially examiners and resource persons. However, it is also important to note that teacher performance is triggered by providing them with enough job amenities. People join organizations like schools in order to satisfy their varied needs. Teachers, for example, join teaching expecting to meet their financial and social needs because they are in turn paid salaries and even given other incentives to improve their livelihoods. Declining school quality is one of the most serious problems facing Third World countries and particularly in Africa. It is mainly the lack of teacher amenities that limit opportunities to enhance teacher morale and performance leading to declining school quality in the developing countries because powerful teacher incentives determine school quality. A teachers' strike was for example looming in Kenya as the government has reneged on its pledge to implement to the letter a teacher's remuneration package recommended by a commission it appointed in 1997.

School performance is directly linked to the quality and quantity of teacher remuneration. To improve teachers' satisfaction and performance, Botswana initiated a major reform in teachers' incentives of junior secondary education. To assess its effectiveness, classroom observations were conducted on 549 teachers in 50 classrooms. However, teacher satisfaction is in most cases due to the school's ability to provide adequate basic necessities to its staff. The most direct incentives provided by schools include housing, transport allowances and salaries. However, the Botswana studies discovered a paradox for school reformers that increased job satisfaction may not improve performance or student achievement, because satisfied teachers may resist efforts to change. However, in Uganda the opposite is true. Teachers and school administrators attach candid value to job amenities. In order to ensure improved performance, school administrators try to motivate teachers using job amenities like wage increment, housing allowances, transport allowances, promotion on the job etc.

There is a widespread perception that when teachers' pay is low, this is the greatest obstacle to attracting motivated and highly competent people to the profession. Since deficient teachers pose one of the most severe constraints on the provision of a quality education, the perception is that if teacher remuneration were to rise, higher quality education could be provided. Education has always been a weak point of any region's development equation when there are no fillers that attract teachers to love their profession. For example in 2006, UNESCO noted that enrollment has increased recently in many Latin countries, but overall teaching quality remains very poor which is attributed to poor teacher pay and the lack of incentive structures to retain teachers. More so, low student achievement in Uganda and the developing world in general has been documented to be the outcome of such poor teacher remuneration. This poor student performance leads to high repetition rates and, eventually, high dropout rates.

Salary and teacher motivation

Everyone wants a salary increase, and teachers are no exception. Nonetheless, policymakers should consider whether that is the best way to improve education and doing that requires a strong relationship between teacher amenities as remunerations and school performance. The intention is to find the contribution of teacher amenities to school quality. If it is apparent that education quality is better in those third world schools where teacher salaries are higher, therefore low pay is an important cause of poor school performance. Similarly, if there is a close link between salary and teaching quality, it is strong to believe that pay levels determine teaching excellence. Most of the studies on this point have not demonstrated a close link between teachers' pay and the performance of their students.

This absence of an association is evident in the United State, and in the developing countries in general, and finally in Latin American countries in particular. These studies suggest that the link between salary and quality is weak or nonexistent. This conclusion is borne out by the fact that there are many places where pay is high, but quality does not improve. There are also schools and systems in which the pay is lower, and the quality is good. Obviously, the phenomenon is complex, and many other factors could be involved. We cannot determine unilaterally that salary levels are unconnected to quality, and we do not fully understand the mechanism if research is not undertaken. Nonetheless, the data do show that those responsible for devising and implementing policy lack good arguments to support the idea that increasing teachers' pay would necessarily improve teaching quality, since-so far at least-the data reveal no causal relationship between the two.


The teaching profession as a whole is beset by deficiencies in terms of teacher remuneration, which is why there is poor school quality. Promotion does not depend on merit or performance. Absenteeism is not properly penalized; and job stability is excessively strong, since teachers who are not up to the job cannot be fired. It is interesting to note that in Cuba, which some believe has the best education system in Latin America; deficient teachers are removed from their posts.

The idea of attracting good teachers in order for a school to improve student performance is internationally acceptable in almost every school system. In Connecticut for example, a system of monetary rewards is being used to attract better teachers. Specifically, the state offers a substantial lump sum payment to those who sign a contract to teach for a certain number of years. The underlying logic is that such an incentive is of more interest to young teachers than a series of pay increases over the course of a professional life. The scheme allows the state to attract more skilled teachers, although a significant number of them leave at the end of the mandatory contract period. The idea is compelling; because it may be less costly than offering higher pay increases throughout a career.

Some schools in the third world attract better teachers when they create a more pleasant work environment. However Hanushek does not explain what a pleasant work environment is in the context of the school. But the present researcher, form experience acknowledges that a pleasant work environment in the third world context means the provision of better amenities for teachers so as to retain them in their present job. However, in addition Hanushek observes rightly that the strategy of creating a pleasant work environment for all teachers is mostly seen in private schools, but there is no reason why the public sector could not employ it as well because all types of schools deal with human beings who are never satisfied. These human beings have intractable needs. Its success will depend on the hiring of good principals, school autonomy, and other factors related to the work environment. Without entering into a more systematic discussion of the factors that determine how schools are organized, it is worth noting that a good principal can create a favorable environment in a short amount of time, and that a poor principal can cause a swift deterioration in a school's climate. Teachers' amenities are not only in monetary terms but also in non-monetary terms.

Non-monetary amenities in developing countries include promotion, advancement and benefits, job stability among others. However, the problem with some third world countries like those in Latin America is that there is poor school quality because little attention is paid to the non-monetary amenities as with monetary amenities.

Teachers' pay as a job amenity: an assessment of recent trends in Africa

Pay for teachers is also a major job amenity for teachers in schools in developing countries. In fact, it is the largest amenity. During the last two decades of the 20th century, teachers' salaries have been regularly declining throughout most low income countries, and particularly so in Africa. This is why there is a comparative decline in school quality because teachers have resorted to looking for alternative sources of incomes. But the question of whether this decline is a favorable evolution or whether it can jeopardize the attainment of the Education For All (EFA) objectives is not that easily answered. When salaries are too high, most of the already scarce resources of the education sector are dedicated to their payment to the detriment of either wider coverage of the education system or better provision of complementary inputs (such as textbooks for example). This then raises a crucial question about the effect of teacher salaries on school performance because school performance depends not only on teachers' pay but also other determinants of performance which require availability of financial resources. This present study will try to respond to this intractable dilemma.

If teachers' compensation becomes too low, it can be feared that teachers' commitment to their job will be affected and that the quality of schooling will suffer the consequences of this loss of motivation. Based on an averaging of the characteristics of the education systems of various countries that seem to be under way to reach the EFA targets, that a reasonable level for an average teachers' salary would be about 3.5 units of per capita GDP. If this level was to be aimed at, most African countries would indeed have to carry on decreasing the salaries paid to their teachers. This paper documents the level and trends of teachers' pay in Africa, discusses the validity of the various arguments sketched above based on existing literature, and ends by detailing some case studies. Since the mid-70s, African teachers have witnessed a continuous decline in their salaries, leading to a general reduction in the number of teachers as indicated by declines in the number of teachers from 8.6% in 1975 to 4.4% in 2000. This decline amounts on average to a halving of the teachers' wage expressed in units of per capita GDP from 6.6% in 1975 to 3.7% in 2000.

Nevertheless, the wage bill is still eating up most of the recurrent expenditures for primary education. However, Mingat adds that recurrent expenditure was 97% of Senegal primary education sector in the period 1992-1997 going to also other sectors apart from salaries for teachers. This same story applies to Ugandan schools where other sectors like feeding students, purchasing academic materials and other inevitable expenses try to consume what might be paid to teachers because these other expenses are also crucial to academic performance of students.

In conclusion, it is safe to say that job amenities are the core for effective performance of teachers and other staff in schools. When management provides teachers with tangible amenities then there is a reason to believe that teachers will reduce moonlighting and will at the same time work effectively to expand students' opportunities by improved academic performance.

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