New pay structure upsets some Emirati teachers

Mariam Al Kaabi has had enough.

On February 6th Shireena Al Nuwais of the National wrote an article titled:  “Emirati teachers threaten to resign over new pay scale”. The National interviewed Mariam Al Kaabi, a teacher at Al Ain’s Umm Kalthoum High School for 18 years. She, along with a number of other teachers, has threaten to resign because they feel they have been misled.

“They called this an increase and a way to encourage nationals to be teachers, but I say that this is a new system to push away and deter national teachers, said Mariam Al Kaabi. The new salaries are not an increase. They just included our housing in the salary.”

The overwhelming majority of Emirati teachers like Mariam Al Kaabi does their job, are strong supporters of their country and want a quality education system. That is why it is very unusual for such a person to come out publicly. What events occurred for her and others to threaten to resign?  After all the UAE has been very public in its desire to increase the number of Emirati’s in the teaching field.

Here is some background on what caused this very public outburst.

On November 26, 2013 a number of UAE English newspapers including The National, Gulf News, and Khaleej Times reported that Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), announced that the education salary structure was to be adjusted offering up to 35 per cent greater pay and benefits for Emirati teachers, leaders and administrative staff across the emirate of Abu Dhabi public school sector. The reason was to encourage Emiratis to join the education profession.

“The fewer the number of Emiratis who take up education-related careers, the fewer Emirati graduates we have for roles in public school. Such a decline could not only lead to a lack of Emirati role models for pupils, but could also result in pupils losing their national identity and values,” said Dr. Mugheer Al Khaili, director general at the Adec.

However when I reviewed the ADEC release I did not find any statement, which was specific about the percentage of raises.

In the website release it was stated:

“The salary structure for teachers, principals, assistant principals and administrative staff at public schools in Abu Dhabi, has been initiated to raise the quality of education and increase the participation of Emiratis, while promoting a comprehensive vision to develop human resources and the status of teaching in schools. The new salary structure comes in line with requirements of the new organizational structure to ensure a professional work environment based on governance, transparency and excellence, while promoting quality education through employing and attracting qualified teachers with experience. The plan will also help retain administrative performance, create new jobs and update the duties and roles of other basic jobs.”

Is this a misunderstanding of what is included in the revised compensation package? Was it clearly communicated to the teaching professionals before receiving their new paycheck? I cannot find any definitive statements on the public ADEC sites which clearly lays out the old package, and the new one. It is clear that some teachers feel a significant raise in pay was promised in November but did not occur.

So what happens next? Will the public school system see a number of Emirati teachers not return for the new school year? Let’s hope that is not the case. If the school system wishes to increase the number of Emiratis to join the education profession it is important to retain current Emirati teachers and administrators.

Hopefully the issue is being addressed and will be positively resolved for everyone. The UAE needs more, not less male and female Emirati teachers, to help educate the nation’s children. To lose experienced teachers is a waste of talent.


2 Replies to “New pay structure upsets some Emirati teachers”

  1. I agree that quality teachers need to be paid well. This is a strange situation in the respect that having your housing allowance rolled into your paycheck could be very good or not at all helpful, depending on what kind of quarters you rent. In my case, for example, it would be a nice raise, because my apartment is significantly under the maximum ADEC housing allowance. In other cases, where teachers are at their maximum allowance, it wouldn’t equal a raise at all. What is really disappointing about the situation, however, is the change from the initial promise for this rise to affect all teachers, which would have had a great benefit on morale for expats who are good employees. Have a look at this excerpt from The Khaleej Times, published October 11, 2013: “The council endorsed a new organisational structure for public schools as well as the payroll structure for the school employees in Abu Dhabi. The new payroll, which covers salaries and wages of all workers in schools, including teachers, principals, their assistants and all members of the administration staff, is aimed at upgrading the quality of teaching. The step also aims to expand people’s participation within a fully integrated and comprehensive vision to improve performance of school workers with special emphasis on promoting the status of the education sector.”


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