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Issues in education

Theoretical perspective towards improving teacher remuneration in Botswana
By Staff Writer Fri 19 Dec 2014, 15:37 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Issues in education








This Issues continues the discussion on teacher remuneration in Botswana that begun last week.  The debate covers different theoretical approaches to how teachers are paid.  Many theories that justify "pay" or reasonable compensation for services rendered have been proposed by human resource management practitioners.  They include "expectancy theory", "equity theory" and "distributive justice theory". 

The expectancy theorists argue that workers are believed to have a high expectancy for their efforts.  This higher expectancy encourages workers to improve their performance in order to obtain increased rewards.  Monetary rewards are generally more attractive to workers than other forms of compensation.  There is, therefore, a relationship between the anticipated reward and the effort that one puts in to a job.  This has been considered in detail in "Teacher Remuneration Policy: A Critical Review of Teacher Management in Botswana" in Pula - Journal of African Studies, Volume 21, Number 1 by Owen Pansiri.

Equity theory states that "equals are rewarded equally, and unequals are rewarded unequally".  Equity theorists argue that workers are usually dissatisfied with a uniform salary that disregards differences in effort put into the work by different employees.

They therefore advocate for "effort related pay".  Secondly, there is also an argument of parity associated with factors such as the qualifications and conditions of service that ought to be taken into account.  For example, the issue of salary comparison for various specialisations tends to make teaching a less attractive vocation in most modern economies.

The Botswana teachers' remuneration system, salary differentiation between teachers according to levels of teaching, one that disregards factors such as qualifications, experience, competencies, responsibilities and accountability gives rise to questions of parity and justice. This is the major challenge that Botswana faces: the need to work towards making teaching a more competitive career in the context of our fast growing technological and evolving economy. 

This leads to the consideration of the third approach, the theory of "distributive justice", as an alternative to help address the problem of teacher remuneration. This theory may apply four units of analysis. Firstly, distributive justice is about parity and social identity within and among employees. 

Workers in a single profession often compare themselves and question factors that impact on the recognition of their differences.  For example, teachers may seek to identify factors that transparently distinguish their character, effort and level of contribution.  Such factors include qualifications, length of and specialities in training, and variations in teaching certain classes or groups of learners, privileges and usefulness of experiences necessary for the wellbeing of a school. 

Parity is therefore, drawn from the comparative recognition of the value of teachers' work.  It is concluded that in a situation where the salary depends on the level at which one teaches, this can be devoid of justice.

Secondly, comparability goes along with trends of development in similar operational environments. A group of workers tend to draw job satisfaction from rating the status of their work against workers in similar institutions, in terms of training, qualifications and specialisations.

For example, teachers' job satisfaction could be measured against such professions as nursing, psychology or social work, which have a similar role in the development of human minds, behavioural and attitudinal change and similar professional training levels.

Thirdly, job satisfaction is dependent upon recognition of level of risks, responsibility and accountability (developed in "Teachers' Pay" by the International Labour Organisation, 1978).  This has been captured in the Employment Act Chapter 47:01 (2002) by Botswana.

Classroom teachers and those in management positions are exposed to various risk-levels in childcare and care of school property, which deserve recognition and appreciation by the authorities.  Responsibility and accountability levels are inevitably a very significant measure given that schools differ in population sizes, age groups of children, remoteness, rural versus urban, different social and community environments and socio-economic challenges faced by parents in the catchment area, whether a boarding or day school, and many others variables.

Fourthly, distributive justice involves open and genuine collaboration and partnership in decision-making between policy makers and practitioners to stimulate job satisfaction for practitioners.  Regular dialogue between teachers and government could reduce teachers' consumerist objectives to a level of reasonably assisting government to rationalise their demands. 

Attributes of distributive justice are essential for decision-making; these four units of analysis provide the necessary framework that could guide collective bargaining and negotiations on remuneration in human resource management.  The next Issues will advance suggestions for the way forward towards collective bargaining and negotiations on teacher remuneration.



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