Rivers pushes for better pay for teachers

| 02/07/2014

(CNS): The minister of education has said that she is expecting a proposal from the deputy governor in regards to a review of teachers’ salary and that she has the backing of her Cabinet colleagues in her advocacy of better pay packages, which will not only improve the lives of teachers already within the system but will help in the recruitment of capable and competent teaching staff. “I have from the very beginning been advocating for the civil service to look at the provisions for teachers and remuneration packages, the structure, the hiring practices,” Tara Rivers told CNS in a video interview. However, she noted that the salary of civil servants is not in her domain but in that of the governor and deputy governor as head of the civil service.

“As minister of education I am a strong advocate for professions such as teaching because we know that the quality of your educational experience is very much dependent on the quality of the teaching that is delivered and offered in our schools," she said.

The remuneration of civil servants is in the hands of the governor and deputy governor but she has been in constant dialogue with them, she said, "and they have given a commitment to look at the situation with respect to teachers and how we can improve that system in order to improve their lives as well as improving the prospects of ensuring that we have and we can attract capable and competent teachers."

Rivers said she wants to reward teachers "for good and excellent performance". However, she also said that "for performance that is not necessarily up to par", there would be "appropriate sanctions as well".

"As minister for education I will continue to advocate for very strongly that our teachers need to be given the latitude to teach as well as being given the ability to live and to afford to pay their bills …  I know it doesn’t just affect teachers but obviously, as the minister responsible for education, that is the one area that I will be continuing to advocate for," she said.

Watch the interview on YouTube

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  1. anonymous says:

    Do School teachers in the US get free medical and dental? Do they take home US$ 4000 per month after taxes? How much vacation pay is paid? Do they work all 12 months of the year? Lets compare? Is it cold there, sea temp. is it safe? 

    I think we are giving a better deal at $4000 per month then USA.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are they harrased or racially profiled in the US? Do they deal with incompetence at a shocking level in the US? Do they actually get thier summers off in the US, or do they have to spend half thier time in the summer preparing for managments expected poor performance and slack in preparation in the following year? Do they need to spend thier own money on resources the school should provide? Can they rent a house, pay for groceries and utility bills at 5 times the prices in Cayman they would have to pay in the US? Are they hounded by colleagues to steal thier lessons plans in the US, or would that be considered rude or grounds for dissmissal? Would a US school tolerate students harrassing thier teacher? Are thier constant scandals and management stealing funds to pad thier wallets, yet nobody loses thier job or goes to jail??? 

      I think if you would put into perspecticve just how exhausting it is for a US teacher to have to deal with all the dysfunction, 4000 is rather low. Good luck on keeping the old startegy of constantly turning over your expat teachers so the truth never comes out, and you can offer the greenies your 4000. Unfortunately for you, the word is out among many universities on how Cayman treats US expat teachers. 

      • Anonymous says:

        What is funny is how they always say that they have more than enough applicants for thier open teaching positions. What they dont tell you is the quality of the applicants because the good ones wont touch their educational position forms with a 10 foot pole. Caymans reputation to expat teachers is now infamous, akin to a horror story. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Your first question is a hilarious one to ask of Americans. That is the capital of racial profiling and harrasment – something which is virtually unknown here. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I work in an urban district. The school is located across the street from the projects. We have just over 3,000 students(a high school) . School runs from mid-August to mid-June. We have 3 police officers, 15 security officers and hundreds (yes, hundreds of security cameras) in our buildings. We do not have metal detectors (although, I personally feel we should).

      We pay for our own medical, dental and life insurance.State and federal taxes are deducated from each pay check. We pay union dues and put in money towards our retirement. Approx. $1,800. extra comes out of my paycheck every month to cover these costs.

      Yes, it is cold here for 6 months out of the year and I must make sure to save $$ to travel to your beautiful beaches. Our sea temp. is only hitting 65 or so right now so you can imagine how much we appreciate swimming in your waters.

      You are getting a better deal, I think,  especially when it is the middle of the winter and we have the bitter snow to deal with, but either way teaching is a veryrewarding job. Enjoy your summer holiday and best of luck to the new school year.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It is cheaper for government to cut import duty which EVERYONE on island will be happier. Cayman government STILL have too many employee working for government far more than many countries overseas. Sell companies like turtle farm, Cayman airways, water authority.

  3. Annie says:

    The thing is if I, and every other parent of a Caymanian child who presently attends private school, sent said children to public school the cost to run the public schools would increase. I am not saying that govt. doesn’t waste, foolishly use, abuse and totally squander our money. And it is OUR money. Using some of it to properly compenate those who deserve it (i.e. Teachers) and remove it from those who do not is a good first step.

  4. Anonymous says:

    and school fees will go up up and away!

    • Annie says:

      What school fees do you pay at public unless you are an expat?

    • Anonymous says:

      Schools fees are illegal and contrary to the CIG's human rights obligations.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The extra money would be better spent making sure Cayman complies with its human rights obligation to offer free primary and secondary schooling to all resident children.  One day the expats will club together and sue for the recovery of all the school fees they have been forced to pay.

    • Anonymous says:



      Can an my child get free education in another country?! 


      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, the child has a right to free primary and secondary education if the country in question is subject to the ECHR, as Cayman is.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thats all fine and dandy, but how is she going to improve on the students? and the non interest in the parents of their children in school?

    • Anonymous says:

      If I decided that I would like to relocate to the USA / Canada and I am on a work permit, are my children going to attend public school for free?  Just asking………………………



      • Anonymous says:

        As neither Canada nor USA is subject to the ECHR obligation to provide free schooling, your question is irrelevant to the issue.

      • Anonymous says:

        Canada, UK and I believe anywhere in the EU – yes.  

  6. anonymous says:

    Are there any teachers making less then CI $ 4000 per month? Isn't that more then what they make in the states,Canada or UK. Minus taxes? We keep bringing up the cost of living and still no minimum wage. Disgraceful.

    • Anonymous says:

      If i had to guess, I would say 90% of teachers are making less than $4000 per month. Many after 10+ years in the service.


      • Anonymous says:

        Not sure how to do the math (US vs. CI), but I have worked as a teacher for 2 decades in the states and I do not make $4,000 a month.  I have a masters plus 3 certifications.

        • Anonymous says:

          And you don't pay $7 for a gallon of milk, do you?

          • Anonymous says:

            No, I do not drink milk.

            I was just giving what a teacher in the U.S. gets paid so "you" would be able to compare.

            I am for pay raises for teachers.

            • Anonymous says:

              The point is that the comparison is useless.

              • Anonymous says:

                That is too bad you feel that way.


              • Anonymous says:

                I don't believe a comparison is useless when the discussion on this topic is about other regions in the world ( and teacher salaries) and how to  make the package attractive in order to get the best teachers in GC and retain them.  

        • Anonymous says:

          Not buying what you are selling.

          In Dekalb County Public School (Atlanta, GA, a Masters and 20 years experience gets you $61,000/year.

          Mobile Alabama – base salary for 20 years – 44,000. (and Alabama is a poorer state).

          In New York City, base salary of a teacher with 20 years experience is $83,000 per year….more with Masters.

          Canada ranges by province from $111,000 to 67,000 for a Masters plus 10-12 years experience.

          The average teacher pay in California in 2011 was $69,000, with the highest paying school district paying teachers an average of $103,000

          20 years experience, and a Masters, and you’ve never made more than 40 grand??

          (I had all the links to the sources used for the data above, but CNS website though it was spam…but you can easily find pay scales online).

          • Anonymous says:

            You don't have to buy anything, but my take home pay is well under $4,000 a month.  My gross pay is more, of course, but that is not what I live on. The rest of my salary goes to taxes, medical etc. I do not see any of that $$.  You can not just look at base salaries as that is not what we bring home/live on.


    • Anonymous says:

      I believe a step scale for teachers is the way to go. The scale is dependant on years of teaching and their education level (master's, doctorate etc). Each year they move up the scale by one step or they slide over on the scale if their education level has increased.

      • Anonymous says:


        Government has been there and done that!!!  

        Increments were frozen way back in 2000/2001 because "Government was broke" and increments had to be withdrawn.  So just like the cost of living – withdrawn but never given back.

        There are teachers that have been teaching in the government system for 20+ years, attained masters, taken on role of senior teacher with added responsibilities and no additional pay.  They are making basically the same salary as almost 10 years ago. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Yep, I have been teaching here for 8 years and am still earning $3636 per month. Pretty much a standard classroom teacher's salary in the government system. I now have 13 years experience and am paid the same (or less in some cases) than people who have been teaching for a year or two. Sliding scales based on experience and performance related pay are common in teaching elsewhere; when I moved out here my salary was equivalent to what I earned in my home country. Not any more – even after paying tax I would be earning more back home than I do here. It is one of the main reasons why this will be my final contract- despite having married a Caymanian and settled here. Added to this my flights at the end of contracts were taken away in 2010, I have been acting in a position in middle management for two years without pay and am still waiting for it to be advertised, I frequently buy my own stationary, my department budget was slashed this year meaning less resources available for students and we recently discovered that the government stealthily introduced a new policy on shipping that was not in our initial contracts. I have watched in horror this year as two colleagues of mine who are leaving were both forced to pay over $2000 CI of a $3500 bill from their own pockets in order to ship back what the government had agreed to ship over at the start of their contracts. The alternative was to leave the majority of their belongings behind. Despite discussion and pleas for them to be more reasonable, it seems that the DES considers those at the end of contracts who aren't renewing of little importance. They would do well to consider that disgruntled employees / ex employees from various places around the world are hardly singing the Cayman Islands' praises when asked what it's like to work there by prospective applicants (and they do ask, believe me). Ever wonder why it is that the DES are frantically scrabbling to find teachers in June for August after advertising some positions 3 or 4 times internationally and having no good applicants? You think people up and move to a different country without research? And you think those who are / have been treated like 'pit ponies' by their employers are going to recommend coming here to anyone??! Treat your employees like they are valued and they will repay you a thousandfold. This includes proper sanctions for those who are not meeting standards expected as this also has a knock on effect with those who are doing their jobs properly. We get discouraged from covering yet again for colleagues persistently out of school and wonder why it is that those who are inept or even incapable of fulfilling their job description seem to get away with it and pocket the same money evey month as those who really are here to make a difference. Unfortunately, it is those who are making the difference who will end up leaving if conditions aren't improved.

      • Anonymous says:

        Paragraphs, please.

        I could not read this word stew.

        Sad that these are the people teaching the adults of tomorrow.

        • anonymous says:

          Sad that you don't have a choice by the sounds of it.

          What is startling is that I came here at the same time, to take up a different profession and the problems highlighted above are exactly the same.

          I used to think that the daily ineptitude, obstructions and inefficiencies were just in my line of work but is clear it is endemic through all organizations and government.

          When two different nationals from different countries in two different professions reach the same conclusions, somebody, somewhere should take heed.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Makes much sense.  Other regions in the world make the package attractive in order to get the best and retain them.  In addition to increased salary, government should consider giving back the end of contarct travel allowance to teachers recruited from overseas and provide other equivalent incenrtives for Caymanian teachers.  They should also follow international best practices and provide teachers with end of contract gratuities, and a discount on school fees for their children.  Good teachers should be provided with easier opportunities for Residency if the intention is to retain them.  A happy employee truly makes a more productive one.  Treat them well and more will go beyond the call of duty.  Positive move Hon Minister!  Hope you get to read my comment and make things even better.  

  8. Anonymous says:

    A step in the right direction. Maybe you can attract the best educators into the classroom. Teachers are barely making it. A very sad story.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Go Tara, Go! 

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am not sure it is the salaries, firstly the hightest paid teachers on the island work for Government. Right now for me to send my child to a private school it costs me approx $12,000per year. now what gets me is it is costing us Caymanians 25k-30k per year to send a child to a government school. Something is wong here. Why doesnt goverment send every child to a private school and it would be a cost saving to US! of approx 10-15k per child per year!!!!

    We need to ask the question as to why a private school can run so much cheaper.. oh sh..t i know why!!!! Its not their money they are spending!!!!!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      As old Caymanians would say, "Talk what you know".

      My friend, an 11 year vetern of the Cayman Public school system went to teach at one of Cayman's best private schools, where she now makes more money. On top of a higher yearly salary, she makes an additional 2,000KYD every 2 years when she re-signs her contract. (if you add in her savings on her children getting reduced tuition, wow).

      Many teachers get paid the starting slaray of 43,000KYD/year, and their pay has never gone up, even as they have gained experience. That teacher who moved to a private school was making the exact same amount of money as another teacher I know, who had just left university. And the former had been teaching for 11 years.

      New hires come in from other countries, and end up getting paid more than the Caymanian teacher, even when they have fewer years experience. The Caymanian teacher, right out of university, is put on the bottom of the pay schedule, where he or she stays. The new hire is given credit for years worked abroad, so they often end up being paid more than Caymanian teachers, while having less experience. 

      The competence of these Caymanian teachers is quite high, as once they get fed up with the pay situation, they are being snapped up by the private schools, and lauded over by the parents at these schools. The conditions are such in our government schools, that once you teach successfully there, you can teach successfully pretty much anywhere.

      Good job Tara, addressing the discrepency in pay that is driving our quality teachers out. If one of the strategic moves was to have more Caymanians as teachers, retaining the quality ones you have is vitally important.

      Just to outline: I know three that have now been hired by Prep. One is a former deputy principal. I know one that has been hired by Catholic. I know one that is now at Grace. I know of three (including a Golden Apple nominee) who have left teaching altogether. There are many more who shake their heads, and wonder if it is worth it to stay. Although it is a question  of money, as we all need to provide for our families, ultimately it is about being valued. Many of these stellar teachers had to leave the government school system in order to feel valued. 



      • Anonymous says:

        You are right, teachers are not valued.  They are treated poorly by the department of education services and the CEO is very uncaring.  Value teachers by actions, not words, and you will see a positive difference in the system.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, you've lost me. You're saying a Caymanian parent presently has tp pay 25k – 30k to send each child to a government school? There is (or used to be) a"book fee" but I am not aware of any other charge. Care to explain?

      • Anonymous says:

        No, imbecile. It costs CIG that much to put just ONE child through the system alone. Educate thyself. LOL

      • Diogenes says:

        Tax payers foot the bill, that is what the poster means.  Of course, its not just Caymanians taht pay the indirect taxes – everyone that lives here shares the tax burden, but not everyone gets to to send their child to public school "free" – albeity private school parents do benefit from a $1.5m grant to the private school system out of taxpayer funds.  It does not detract from the validity of the posters main comment tho, that it seems inexplicable that it costs so much more to educate a child in the public system than in the private one.   

      • Anonymous says:

        No, they are saying that it what it costs the govt. and by extension us as tax payers.

    • Anonymous says:

      Get your thoughts together or your facts straight. 

      Firstly, teachers in the Government system have not had an increase in salary since about 2001.  Yes,  they have received the same cost of living as other civil servants,  but there has only been 2 or 3 of those increases in the last number of years.  The last one of 3.2 % was withdrawn and not returned.  Teachers in the government system are leaving to go to private schools – I cannot imagine them leaving for less pay!!

      Secondly, if you are paying $12,000 annually for private school then that's a choice you have made so do not complain about it. 

      It costs nothing for a Caymanian child to attend public school.  There is no tuition, no book fee, no bus fee.  There are many cases where teachers are having to find school supplies (pencils,rulers, books etc) for the students because parents do not even do that much.   Children come to school with no lunch or snack and again that is something that the schools are having to deal with.  

      Explain further about this 25K – 30K cost please.

  11. Anonymous says:


  12. Anonymous says:

    About time! I really hope they are serious about this. I am a civil servant and I would truly not mind if teachers got a bump in their salaries first. The level of education offered here does not measure up to other Caribbean countries and I am firm believer that a happy employee is a productive one. You can't have teachers, who are already stressed from having to.deal with unruly children also have to worry about how they are going to pay their bills as well.



    • Anonymous says:

      Actually, Cayman compares quite well with most other Caribbean countries' level of education. That's not to say we should be complacent but that is not a particularly ambitious comparison to make.

      • Anonymous says:

        Which "Caribbean" country are you comparing Cayman to? Not Barbados, Not Jamaica, not St Lucia, Not Antigua. Kids have graduated from the public schools in the Cayman Islands and gone to places like the US and supposedly "excelled" but yet when they went to Barbados and Jamaica, they were clueless! Some had not even seen some of the work covered in the high schools there. They were competing against kids from other Caribbean islands like those mentioned above and they didn't measure up. I know this from children first hand and I am talking about kids who graduated from school here as honor students. So get your facts straight!

        • Anonymous says:

          Excerpted from CNS's article on the Cayman Brac school results:  "The Cayman Islands is the only English speaking country in the Caribbean that publishes reports on external exams by cohort, which means they include the students that did not take the exam as well as those that failed, in order to have a percentage of the population as a whole. “We’d love to have those statistics from other countries to compare ourselves to,” Wahler said.

          The only statistic that they have that offers any kind of comparison is from the CXC board website, which states that in 2009 just 21.2% of students had 5 or more passes, but this is out of students who have beenentered, not of all students, so it was a selective group in the first place, Wahler noted.

          So we know that we are doing far better than the region,” she said. Comparing the Cayman Islands with England and Wales, she said, “We are where they were in 2009.”

          In 2013 Cayman had a 70% pass rate of the entire cohort of students with 5 or more passes.  


          These are actual statistics, not dubious anecdotal accounts. I suggest you get your facts straight!

        • Anonymous says:

          It may be that the best schools and students in Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados are better than the best schools and students in Cayman but that does not mean that the general level of educational attainment of students in those countries is better than the general level of educational attainment of students in Cayman. It is not.