Government Commits to Full Funding of Salaries and Allowances for Grant-Aided Schools in 2024
Grant-aided schools across the country will see the government paying full salaries, allowances and pension in 2024. The Ministry of Education is looking to fulfill several requests by the joint unions that was presented to the government back in 2018. In the collective bargaining agreement proposed back, the unions had called for some twenty-four proposals including the famous Proposal 22. This particular proposal sought to have the government cover the full cost of salaries at the grant-aided schools in the country. Education Minister, Francis Fonseca rose in this morning’s House Meeting to break down the cost and the list of those who would benefit.
Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education: “Proposal 22 of that agreement identified a necessitated immediate response of the Ministry of Education. Now subsection 1 of proposal 22 proposed that the Ministry of Education, Government of Belize pays the full 100% salaries and service benefits of all grant aided secondary and tertiary level educational institutions in Belize. This full salary payment would all qualified approved teaching staff full 100% pensions and service benefits for all staff whether teaching or non teaching would be honored. Currently Madam Speaker there are 728 teachers at the 30 grant aided secondary schools which represent 50.7% of secondary school teachers nationwide. The 151 lecturers at the 8 grant aided tertiary institutions represent 53% of tertiary level educators nationally. The combined population 879 teachers and lecturers of grant aided secondary and tertiary institutions will receive 100% salaries, full pensions and service benefits starting 2024. At these grant aided institution there are 128 support staff at the secondary level and 47 at the tertiary level. These 175 non teaching support employees would also receive 100% salaries and full service benefits as of 2024.”
This move by the government will see a 19 million expenditure increase by 9.4 million dollars come next year, increasing to ten million dollars by 2028. Fonseca noted that this initiative will include non-teaching staff which would carry an additional one point seven million dollars in 2024. Love News understands that there are currently 151 teachers at the grant-aided tertiary schools which carries an annual cost of four point eight million dollars and will increase by an estimated two point six million dollars next year. In the midst of his presentation, former Minister of Education, Patrick Faber rose to ask for clarity in what the government is proposing.
Patrick Faber, Collet Area Representative: “I’m not clear Madam Speaker as to what will happen to those persons who are now pensionable, just retiring what will happen to those persons who have – let’s make an example of somebody who is teaching for twenty five years, has five years more to go in the system. The problem has always been what will happen to those twenty five years when the formula was 70/30 ? Who will pay that portion and I’m not clear of the minister is saying the government is committing to take on all that back payment of that 30% for all the years of those service that the teachers did in those years. The other thing Madam Speaker is that I’m not hearing clearly from him and I hope he could elucidate that they will cover full pensions for all of these teachers and that there is no contribution on the part of teachers in the making any at all ? I would want him to elucidate on that for primary school teachers and secondary school teachers will there be a contributory pension ? Is there one in the pipeline because if we’re giving the teachers full pay 100% as opposed to the 70/30 at the secondary level and then the intention is to come back and say ‘alright you have to contribute to the pension plus all the primary school teachers now.’ then you’re giving with one hand and taking.”
Minister Fonseca responded to Faber explaining that those who have retired would not benefit from these changes. He also noted that the pension reform is already underway, and would be taken into account when the time comes.
Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education: “As I said this take effects 2024. It is not retroactive it takes effect 2024 moving forward but teachers who are in the system, who are in the system will benefit from it those who retire after 2024. So there’s a lot of work has gone into this. A lot of analysis, a lot of data and you know it’s unfortunate. We would love to under some ideal circumstances to be able to cover everybody you know you have teachers who the Chief Education Officer herself just retired last year will not be able to benefit from it. That’s the reality but we have to make a start. We have to correct the injustice and we have to get it right. So that’s where we are. In terms of pension reform that is an ongoing discussion we’re having at the joint union level. Pension reform we’ve started that process. So that obviously is something that we have to take into account. Obviously pension reform is coming and a contributory pension scheme is a part of the process. But absolutely this is historic. This is a fundamental change.”
In total, the government will have to source a total of 13 million dollars more each year to fulfill this agreement.