SALARIES for Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers will increase from next year.
This was confirmed by Minister for Education Filipe Bole yesterday in response to claims that kindergarten teachers had been ignored by the ministry as published in this newspaper last month.
Mr Bole said ECE teachers were previously paid by committees and now the government was providing assistance by paying them on an hourly basis depending on their qualifications.
He said this was the first time the ministry was stepping in to assist ECE teachers throughout Fiji.
About 13,200 children aged three to five years are registered under ECE centres in Fiji this year.
Mr Bole said ECE teachers were normally paid by respective primary schools in which they were registered under.
He said some teachers had never had their salaries increased for the last seven years.
However, he said the new pay system would only be applied to registered ECE centres and teachers in Fiji.
"Government is committed to develop Early Childhood Education in Fiji as espoused in the People's Charter in alignment with education for all which Fiji was a signatory to," Mr Bole said.
The minister had made a submission to Cabinet in July for an increase in salary grant for ECE teachers and this was approved by Cabinet.
"The increased grant will be implemented next year," Mr Bole said.
"As from next year, 2013, ECE teachers will also be paid on an hourly basis based on their qualification," he said.
There are 879 registered ECE centres managed by committees and these management committees have individually signed a memorandum of understanding with the government, which states grants from government will supplement ECE teachers' salary paid to them by their employers according to the ECE Policy.
YMCA Child Care and Pre-School supervisor Maria Logavatu said it was about time the ministry looked in to the welfare of kindergarten teachers.
"We've had more than 20 years of experience but have not had a salary increase," Mrs Logavatu said.
She said over the years, their submissions had been shelved and that teachers who had fought for their welfare had either retired or died.
Mrs Logavatu said the ministry should also take into consideration the experience of teachers who received the same pay as those who have qualifications but no experience.
"We ask the government to have the salary policy based on experience of teachers because it's different when a teacher has qualifications but without experience compared to those who have been in this field for more than 30 years," she said.
Teachers at Twinkle Stars Pre-School in Flagstaff were delighted when informed about the news yesterday.