ONE of the country's knowledgeable economists has called on the government to review the salaries of principals and bring it to par with responsibilities they carry out in schools.
Speaking at the opening of the Fiji Principals Conference in Labasa yesterday, USP economist Professor Biman Prasad said the retention of principals and teachers was linked to their economic status in that they needed to be fairly rewarded for the important work they did.
"Let me give you an example. There are 175 secondary schools in the country and if there was an increase in the salaries of principals from next year by $10,000 across the board, the lowest level 4C principal's starting salary would be $38,304," Mr Prasad said.
"The increase would also raise the starting salary of the highest level 1D principal to $49,529. The total salary budget that the Education Ministry will need to raise the principals' salary by $10,000 across the board will amount to $1.75million. This, in my view, is a small price to pay for the benefits that will be returned. It's small but wise investment that will bring us good returns.
"Principals and teachers remain the single most important factor in determining the quality of teaching. The ability to attract higly-motivated, skilled and committed individuals and retaining them in the profession is absolutely vital for improving the quality of education in the increasing challenging global environment."
Mr Prasad urged the government and the Education Ministry to seriously look into the matter.
Education Ministry permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal referred all queries to the Public Service Commission (PSC).
In response, PSC permanent secretary Parmesh Chand said: "We cannot respond to a proposal for salary rise from an outside party.
"A contract of employment is between an employer and an employee and matters pertaining to salary and terms and conditions of employment are covered in that contract."