KP Sharma      

Following the civil servants’ pay rise, private schools are once again facing the challenges of losing experienced teachers.

According to the school authorities, teachers are considering joining as contract teachers in government schools or going abroad.

This, they say, could directly impact the quality of education in the private schools.

Karma Academy in Paro was quick to adjust the salary packages for approximately 50 of its staff who received a salary rise based on their previous salaries.

Dorji Tshering, the principal of Karma Academy, explained that Academy granted a raise of Nu 17,500 to newly recruited and young teachers whose previous salary was below Nu 30,000. Teachers whose salary was Nu 30,000 and above received a raise of Nu 15,000, and those teachers with salary exceeding Nu 70,000 before got a raise of Nu 10,000.

The principal’s salary saw an increase by Nu 8,000, while other elementary employees received an increase by Nu 7,000.

The principal said that the staff in the lower positions were given a raise of more than 90 percent.

Desi High School in Thimphu implemented a 50 percent increase in basic pay for the school’s 36 staff.

Tashi Wangchuk, the principal of the school, said that this adjustment was necessary when the government raised civil servants’ salaries.

He said that such salary increase for civil servants subsequently leads to a rise in the overall cost of living, which adds financial strain on private sector employees. “Failing to provide a pay raise to teachers puts private schools in a difficult position to retain teachers.”

Private schools rely solely on student enrolment and associated fees. Schools are not permitted to raise the fees as per their convenience.

Phuentsho Tashi, the principal of Druk School in Thimphu, said that the school authority conducted two meetings to explore the possibility of providing a salary raise to the school’s employees.

The school is currently awaiting directives from the ministry, as it has submitted a proposal to raise student fees. “If their proposal is approved, the school would be able to implement the salary raise from next year. The school last revised the employees’ salaries in 2015.”

School authorities of Ugyen Academy and Pelkil School are also reviewing the possibility of increasing the pay for their employees.

Yoenten Kuenjung Academy in Phuentsholing has not discussed the raise yet, as the Academy’s current salary package surpasses that of other schools.

As private schools are compelled to review their employee salaries despite the financial limitations, experts say that this would place a direct burden on parents, particularly those working in the private sector.

The financial health of private schools has been weakened by a decline in student enrolment over the years due to the removal of the cut-off point by the current government.