By Sunita Menon, Gulf News . Feb 13, 2007
Dubai: Asian teachers at a private British curriculum school have protested against discrepancies between their salaries and those of their Western counterparts.
Global Education Management Systems (GEMS), which runs 22 British, American and Indian curriculum schools in the UAE, yesterday confirmed the discrepancies exist in an official statement to Gulf News.
"As in most organisations, there are variances in salary packages for teachers at Cambridge International School. Teachers who have UK, Australian, South African or European teaching qualifications, irrespective of nationality, are paid on a higher scale," the statement said.
The Cambridge school was one of the five GEMS schools that announced a fee hike ranging from 50 per cent to 70 per cent earlier this year, but postponed it when the Dubai Education Council intervened.
The teachers at Cambridge International School spoke to Gulf News but declined to be named out of fear of retribution from the school authorities. They said they are paid Dh2,200 per month compared to Dh7,500 for their Western counterparts.
They said that their annual increment is between Dh50 and Dh90 per year.
Monica Harter, Director, Corporate Communications, GEMS, said that respondents to a recent parent questionnaire at the school indicated that 93 per cent agreed that the "school is well led and managed."
In a staff questionnaire earlier this month, 92 per cent of responses indicated that the leadership and management of the school was satisfactory or above.
Asian teachers said the stress level among them is high as they are overworked as well as underpaid. They said that they took the matter up with the school principal a week ago, but had no response.
"The Indian and Western pupils pay the same fees, so why is there a salary discrepancy among teachers?" said an Asian teacher.
"Asian teachers do not receive House Rent Allowance, (HRA), while it is given to our Western counterparts," said another Asian teacher.
Harter said that it is expected that all teachers offer at least one after-school activity for students every week from 2.15pm to 3.15pm. The activities may include clubs, extracurricular activities or support classes.
"This has always been an expectation at the school and in any GEMS School; the new principal has ensured that the expectation is formally in place. Additionally, teachers are asked to attend one meeting each week, from 2.15pm to 3.15pm.
"Finally, teachers that choose to run physical education teams are paid a monthly enhancement over and above their normal salary; these team activities are entirely voluntary."