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Incentive and performance: Improving teachers’ conditions and professional performance

In light of the Ministry of Education’s announcement that 2020 would be the Year of Teacher’s Appreciation, the Egyptian parliament approved a package of financial benefits for teachers to improve their conditions. The benefits were introduced in response to President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s mandate to launch a project aiming at improving the conditions of about two million Egyptian teachers in the general and Azharite pre-university education sector, at the cost of EGP 6.6 billion, in addition to securing insurance.

The draft law targets implementing structural reforms in teachers’ wages in the general and Azharite pre-university education sector through the establishment of a social and financial welfare fund for teachers and assistant teachers working in educational professions. The fund will be affiliated to the prime minister’s office and considered as a distinct legal entity.

The fund will be financed through a one-time financial subsidy from the State Treasury amounting to EGP 0.5 billion, which will be pumped into two equal payments per annual budget.

In addition, there will be periodic resources collected in specific percentages of the value of: the proposed increase in the teacher’s allowance; performance incentive; examinations’ reward; school administration incentive; school remedial groups; fees for educational activities and services; fees for licenses to establish and operate private schools, in addition to returns on investment of the fund’s finances, and contributions accepted by the fund’s Board of Directors.

It is planned to start disbursing the financial benefits this year, with an average monthly salary increase of EGP 390 for the assistant teacher, increasing by job level to EGP 630 for teachers, at an annual cost of EGP 5.6 billion.

This is in addition to the incentive of the school administration due to school headmasters, that is estimated at EGP 250 per school headmaster, EGP 150 per deputy headmaster per month. The incentive targets 110,000 school administrators and their deputies in the general and Azharite pre-university education sector, at an annual cost of EGP 311 million, as well as the bonus of standardized national examinations for all employees in the pre-university and public education sectors, at an additional annual cost of RGP 2.8 billion.

The draft law also includes a 50 percent increase in the value of the teacher’s allowance, which includes a rate of EGP 75 to EGP 180, according to the teacher’s job level, and targets 1.4 million teachers at an annual cost of EGP 1.8 billion, in addition to paying an additional performance incentive per month at 50 percent of the value of the current performance incentive.

Educational job holders at governmental and Azharite schools are also targeted in the state’s plan, ranging from EGP 140 to EGP 185 per job level, for about 1.4 million teachers, at an annual cost of EGP 1.2 billion.

Financial benefitsAnnual costTarget group
Monthly increase in salaries according to the job levelEGP 5.6 billionAll job levels from assistant teacher to senior teacher
School administration incentiveEGP 311 million110,000 school principals at general and Azharite pre-university education sector
Exams bonusEGP 1.2 billionAll job levels from assistant teacher to senior teacher (about 104 million teacher)

About 2.1 million employees will benefit from the structural reforms package for the wages of the pre-university general and Azaharite sector. These include 1.4 million teachers, 700,000 others in various educational jobs. The total cost for these reforms is EGP 6.6 billion.

The draft law on improving teachers’ conditions is a serious step in appreciating the efforts of Egyptian teachers. The question is whether there will be a parallel improvement in their performance.

Job level or job title?

Some articles of the Teachers Improvement Act have been adopted to distribute the entitlement of some incentives to the job level, as a test for determining the value of the incentive, particularly when the monthly salary increase is generally determined for all levels, from the level of an assistant teacher to a senior teacher.

Other articles of the act have been adopted to distribute the entitlement of some incentives to the job title as a criterion for determining the value of the incentive, especially when determining the value of the incentive for school administration or the incentive of the job performance of the various education sector jobholders.  

In addition, there are some articles of a special nature, such as a teacher’s allowance incentive. The value of the incentive is variable by the change in job level, which entails the imperative of a mechanism that ensures a fair distribution that achieves professional development resulting in an improvement in the teacher’s level of career performance.

The teacher’s professional development in service is linked to promotion in the career level, starting with an assistant teacher, a teacher, a first teacher, a first teacher (grade A), and finally a senior teacher, under Part 7 of the Teacher Staff Act (155/2007).

The law includes the conditions governing each job level. The teacher moves from one job to another after passing the test, and the problem is that passing the test alone is a measure of the skills of the teacher, the professional development acquired during the job, and a certificate of eligibility for responsibilities related to the higher level of employment, and allowances and incentives that result from it. However, these assumptions are unrealistic and need to revised and reviewed.

Educational jobs’ equivalence

Educational jobsJob levelPeriodIncentive
Senior teacherTop manager150%
Expert teacherGeneral manager5 years125%
First teacher (level A)Job level 15 years100%
First teacherJob level 25 years75%
TeacherJob level 3 (2 years’ experience)5 years50%
Assistant teacherJob level 33 years

The Education Act defined the Professional Academy for Teachers as an institution for the development of Egyptian teachers professionally, and was entrusted with granting the teacher a certificate of authority to be included in the promotion according to the stipulated job hierarchy and the corresponding financial degrees.

In 2013, the Executive Regulations of Section 7 of the Education Act 155/2007 were amended. The amendments included functional standards and occupational development areas for each job and its level.

Analysts of the Egyptian Education Act articles, with its amendments and executive regulations concerning teachers’ professional development, will find it comprehensive and flexible, but the reality of its application is somewhat flawed. The programs and training courses offered to teachers as a condition for promotion with a presence of more than 70 percent, need to be developed to suit training and professional needs and reflect the development of the education system. In particular, the majority of higher-grade programs and training programs for educational leadership training are optional and offered at an additional cost.

Training programs also need to be addressed, including training of target teachers according to job training needs, where current training and promotion programs are based on similar training programs and evaluation tools for all categories.

While teaching degrees are divided into two distinct groups, the former is concerned with teaching functions, the extended group up to the post of first teacher, and the latter with guidance and management functions, a group that begins with the function of an expert teacher. The two groups are subject to the same measurement and assessment tools. The assistant teacher or the teacher who needs to be promoted, to a teacher or a first teacher, is subject to the same training and assessments. Similarly, a first teacher and an expert teacher is subject to the same trainings and assessments, which does not reflect real professional development.

Although the Ministry of Education has an electronic database for teachers with different levels, a secure electronic system, and a code for each teacher, this digital system is not fully employed in teacher training in service, but only in the transmission and reception of promotion notices and the dates and headquarters of the test committees.

The Azharite education sector, targeted under the Teachers Improvement Act, is not included in the electronic database of the Ministry of Education, and teachers in the Azharite education sector are subject to promotion mechanisms that differ from their counterparts in the pre-university education sector.

 Improving teachers’ performance

Ensuring the quality of learning outcomes and the impact of education depends heavily on teacher training before and during service, as well as the financial benefits and welfare of the teacher. In recent years, the Ministry of Education has focused on the development of education by improving the quality of the curricula to focus on learning based on the development of skills, rather than on the amount of knowledge, which requires the development of teacher evaluation and training systems and programs, so that they actually improve the teacher’s performance.

In order to assess the maturity of the financial benefits, and to link these benefits to the performance level, this can be done by creating a license, which is renewed and upgraded under specific conditions, measuring the real performance of the teacher, and determining the eligibility of the financial benefits. The license should ensure that the following criteria are met:

Growth in the required learning outcomes of values and skills, as well as cognitive attainment, which can be measured by the participation and acquisition of pre-university Egyptian students in local and international scientific and sports competitions.

The teacher’s professional development, which can be measured by the results of the tests prepared by the Teachers’ Professional Academy, is developed to measure the training needs of the teachers targeted for promotion and licensed practice, as well as the results of the direct manager’s (administrative-technical) evaluations (school director-material guide), and is based on periodic follow-up reports. These include teacher achievements both through his or her student projects and research publications.

Creativity, such as community volunteering, or international participation of all kinds, whether scientific, literary, artistic, sporting, or other.

Students and their parents’ assessments, where questionnaires ameasure students’ and parents’ assessment of the teacher.

In conclusion, establishing a teacher’s financial and social welfare fund is an important step in improving the status of teachers, and it is essential that the fund aims to link the incentive to the level of professional performance, so that the use of the proposed increases in wages and bonuses is linked to the improvement in performance, instead of giving generalised benefits that are obtained regardless of the level of performance.

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