Oman Shura Council members defend teachers against ‘pampered’ remark

Business Sunday 29/May/2016 22:26 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman Shura Council members defend teachers against ‘pampered’ remark

Muscat: Shura Council members defended teachers in the Sultanate after a member called them ‘pampered’.
Some 90 per cent of Oman’s Ministry of Education budget goes to paying teachers’ salary, according to the ministry, but Tawfiq Al Lawati, a Shura member, described teachers in Oman as “pampered” because they have 110 days of holiday per year.
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However, Amer Al Mashrifi, another member, hit back at Al Lawati, saying he would understand hardship of being a teacher if he worked for an hour.
This exchange occurred on Sunday during a heated session at the Majlis Al Shura, which heard a set of controversial questions asked by the members to Madiha Al Shaibany, the minister of education.
“Ninety per cent of the ministry’s budget is for teachers’ salaries, 5.8 per cent for school transportation, and 4.2 per cent goes for test processes,” she said.
“Teachers in Oman are being pampered, as the number of their holidays is 110 out of 360 days. I think this is unacceptable,” Al Lawati said.
“If you tried teaching for an hour, you will find it a difficult task,” Al Mashrifi replied.
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The minister explained that 5.8 per cent of the ministry’s annual budget is dedicated to school transportation, and 4.2 per cent goes for test processes.
Khalid bin Yahya Al Farei, head of the education committee at the Majlis Al Shura, urged the ministry to control the “big” rise in its budget, which jumped, according to him, from half a billion Omani rials to more than one billion in the last few years.
Al Farei also criticised an “army” of 27 advisers who, together, receive OMR60,000 per month, as well as 140 experts in the sector, who are paid some OMR230,000 in monthly salaries. He also advised the minster to force some of these people into retirement.
However, the minister replied, saying that the experts cannot be retired, as their expertise is vital to the ministry. She also announced that a new law has been passed which prevents teachers from resigning during the school year, pointing out that the number of resignations has not increased from previous years.
Another Shura member questioned the reason behind having mixed gender public schools in Al Wusta governorate, and the minister said that it is because of the small population in that governorate. The session will continue for the second and final day on Monday.