Beautiful Virgin Islands

Thursday, Mar 23, 2023

de Castro pushes improved pay for teachers amid ‘alarming resignations’

de Castro pushes improved pay for teachers amid ‘alarming resignations’

Educators play an essential role in the economic development of the Virgin Islands. This was the unmistakable and underlying message from Education Minister Sharie de Castro as she made an urgent plea for lawmakers to properly address the compensation issues affecting teachers in the territory.
The minister’s plea comes days after receiving a missive from the BVI Teacher’s Union over unpaid salary increments dating back several years ago.

According to de Castro, she contacted the union afterwards to request a meeting to hear directly from teachers so that their concerns could be effectively articulated and represented.

The minister pointed out that teachers have shown a high level of dedication and commitment even amid times of crisis and said her ministry aims to “build teachers that are highly qualified and adequately compensated”.

Alarming resignations

In the meantime, the minister explained that the territory has lost teachers with an “alarming number of resignations” coming since the start of the school year.

The haemorrhaging of educators was said to be over issues such as a low rate of pay, the increased cost of living, the compensation offered in other countries, insufficient and outdated resources, and a challenging work environment, among others.

She explained the stark disparity in compensation between teachers locally and abroad, with entry-level teachers in the BVI getting just about $34,600 while across in the USVI their colleagues will earn $50,000 beginning this August, and further away in Texas, the starting salary is now set at $61,500.00 per annum.

Higher demands

But as the minister described the loss of teachers to other countries, she pointed out that the demands on teachers have only grown over the years.

These include professional development, monitoring and evaluation, the initiation of Professional Learning Communities and the implementation of S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education as mechanisms of upgrading the system and making it more innovative and competitive, de Castro explained.

“At this juncture, I must emphatically emphasise that, based on these demands, and more, there must be a thrust for higher pay for our teachers,” the minister urged.

According to de Castro, “it is understandable that low compensation for teachers discourages our own from entering the profession”. She further said she believed that increasing teachers’ salaries will improve the quality of the future workforce, keep teachers in the classroom and reduce turnover.

She added that the low rate of pay for teachers has led them to consider second and third jobs to make ends meet and said teachers need to focus on teaching and on building the territory’s future.

“Education is a fundamental aspect in the development of any country. When the youth of any country are educated, a future is born with hope, vision and possibilities. In actuality, our educators increase the creativity and productivity of students, and therefore, our future workforce,” the minister argued.

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