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Special Education Salaries: 77 Schools, Anomalies Raising Frustration



Special Education Salaries: 77 Schools, Anomalies Raising Frustration

The implementation of the Remuneration Order (RO) for Special Education Needs (SEN) schools this month has caused major anomalies in the salary grid.

While educators and support staff can rejoice in a significant salary increase, the same cannot be said for Heads of Schools/Managers.

The RO does not mention this category of employees, and the Special Education Needs Authority (SENA) has not been able to find a solution to this serious problem at this time. This has caused major frustrations in schools.

The report from the National Remuneration Board (Remuneration Order) for the private SEN sector was highly anticipated by personnel working with children with disabilities.

For the first time, their work would be recognized and compensated fairly. However, the publication of a draft report in 2022 quickly brought dismay to the sector.

In the proposed salary grid, there were no recommendations in favor of Heads of Schools/Managers.

This anomaly had already been brought to the attention of SENA, which was created to restructure and professionalize the sector.

After a two-year wait, and seeing their colleagues in preschools being considered, even though it was not originally planned, they thought their turn had finally come.

At the end of March, when bank accounts were checked, many Heads of Schools/Managers, a majority of whom are women, were shocked to find that they had not received any increase in salary, despite their staff members’ salaries being revised upwards.

The situation has led to some educators and even Caretakers in certain schools earning higher salaries than the Heads of Schools/Managers.

An employee, belonging to one of these categories, expressed her discouragement at this situation.

“After years of dedication to children with disabilities and years of studying at the MIE to obtain my SEN Diploma, I feel like there is no recognition for me.

What is even more frustrating is that we were told to undergo training at the MIE in order to receive the same salary as those working in public schools. But in reality, we were ignored. It’s very disheartening,” she exclaimed.

The NRB report recommends that an SEN educator holding a Teachers Diploma (SEN) from the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE) should be entitled to a salary of Rs 25,500 in their first year of service.

After ten years, they could earn Rs 29,550. Teacher Assistants/Clerks would earn salaries starting at Rs 22,300 in the early years of their career, increasing to Rs 25,225 by the tenth year.

The salary for Carers/Drivers would begin at Rs 18,755 and rise to Rs 21,587 after ten years. Caretakers would start at Rs 18,150 and reach Rs 20,280.

Regarding Heads of Schools/Managers working for NGOs, they only receive the minimum wage of Rs 16,500.

Those who earn slightly more depend on their employer’s discretion, as there is no official scale to determine their salary.

These Heads of Schools/Managers lament a perception that suggests SEN schools also receive funding from the National Social Inclusion Foundation (NSIF).

However, not all schools are treated equally in this regard. “Not all Heads of Schools are NGO directors, and therefore employers. We know nothing about the Grant provided by the authorities. We only have our salary, and that’s all that matters to us,” they said.

Recent reports suggest that Heads of Schools/Managers have been informed to wait for the next budget to resolve their situation.

However, some question whether they should trust this information. “In two years, we have heard so many different versions every time we have raised this issue that we no longer know whether to believe it or not.

Furthermore, it has been known for two years: why was this not accounted for in the previous budget?” they wondered.

These Heads of Schools/Managers draw a parallel with private preschools, which have been receiving government subsidies since this year.

“For preschool managers, they are given a monthly salary of Rs 35,000, as well as a four-year period to complete their Diploma at the MIE.”

“We already have our Diploma in hand, but nothing has been planned for us. What’s more, the NRB report for our sector was ready well before the government’s decision to offer free preschool. It’s blatant discrimination,” they denounced.

They also highlight the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun’s favorite phrase, “No child should be left behind,” when she spoke about children with disabilities.

“It seems that it has been forgotten that in order for these children to have the same opportunities as others, there are people who dedicate themselves to their service. Doesn’t this motto apply to them as well?” they added.

A total of 77 specialized schools are affected by this situation, with 45 managed by NGOs and eight by SeDEC (former APEIM schools).

The staff in SEN units attached to government schools are covered by the PRB. In this regard, the PRB 2021 provides for a salary ranging from Rs 27,400 to Rs 50,900 for Deputy Heads of Schools and from Rs 33,175 to Rs 55,900 for Heads of Schools.

However, the NRB overlooks this category of employees… The irony in this situation is that the National Assembly has just passed the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill two weeks ago.

It seems that the rights of those who dedicate themselves to serving children with disabilities have been forgotten.

Source: Le Mauricien

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