KABUL (Pajhwok): Pajhwok Afghan News findings show presidential candidate Sayed Noorullah Jalili’s promise to increase schoolteacher salary to 70,000 afghanis does not look practical considering the country’s current resources.
Sayed Noorullah Jalili on August 19 during his electioneering had said, “I am from this society and I know what kind of life a teacher lives against 7,000 afghanis monthly salary. While the son of a minister or leader commutes in a vehicle worth $200,000, what type of justice is this? I will increase teachers’ wages from 7,000 to 70,000 afghanis a month, I will also raise the pay of government officers.”
Less resources, big promise
When Pajhwok contacted the government organs concerned, they did not directly comment on Jalili’s statements but said the government lacked much resources and current budget was prepared considering the current financial resources.
Nooria Nazhat, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, told Pajhwok Afghan News that their ministry had currently 220,000 teachers and their number increased from 5,000 to 8,000 each year.
Without giving details, she said a number of contractual teachers were also hired in schools apart from formal instructors.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Ministry of Finance (MoF) did not provide information about the total salaries paid to teachers.
Nazhat said teachers were paid from 6,500 to 25,000 afghanis as their monthly salaries. However, she did not give further details.
She said 25,000 afghanis salary was paid to teachers who held a bachelor’s degree.
According to reports, the number of master’s and doctorate level teachers is very limited.
If each teacher is paid 10,000 afghanis on average as monthly salary, the annual amount of the wages would be 26.4 billion afghanis and if the salary is increased to 70,000 afghanis, the total amount would be 185 billion afghanis a year.
If Jalili increases the salary of teachers to 70,000 afghanis then all national revenue should go to the education sector alone.
According to Pajhwok Afghan News report, the Afghan government’s last year revenue was 189 billion afghanis.
Nazhat said it would be a good move if teachers’ salaries were increased, something she added the MoE also wanted.
However, she said, “The amount of money in government’s treasures may not be enough if the salaries of 220,000 teachers are suddenly increased.”
She said the Ministry of Education’s current year’s budget was 36.3 billion afghanis — still could not meet the ministry’s needs.
The annual development budget of the MoE is 3.2 billion afghanis but the ministry needs extra one billion afghanis for development spending, Nazhat added.
Less salary could somehow affect the education process because some teachers who receive small salaries may also start doing extra jobs and they may focus less on education.
She said the MoF had rejected the MoE requests for more budget before the fiscal year due to limited financial resources.
A number of teachers also complain about less salary.
Khalida Samay, a teacher in Totia Girls High School in Kabul, said, “Our salaries are very little, I receive 8,000 afghanis (~$100) a month despite I have bachelor degree education, government officials have repeatedly said they would increase teachers’ salaries, but their promise is yet to be implemented.”
She said even these little salaries were not paid to teachers on time and they had to wait for two to three months in the beginning of every academic year.
Rabia, a teacher at Lamaa Shahid High School in Kabul, is also not satisfied with her salary and said their salaries sometimes in the beginning of academic year were delayed for five months.
Both these teachers said that Jalili’s promise to increase teachers’ salaries to that much was impractical and imaginary.
The MoE and MoF did not comment about Jalili’s pledge about teachers’ salaries, but Shamroz Khan Masjedi, MoF spokesman said that the ministry allocated budget to units according to available financial resources and budgetary units’ capacities.
He said the total budget for the ongoing year was 424 billion afghanis, with 49 percent of the budget coming from domestic revenue and the rest from foreign funds.
Presidential candidate Sayed Norullah Jalili told Pajhwok that despite the fact President Ashraf Ghani was himself a teacher but he disregarded the community teachers during his leadership.
“The difference between the salary of ministers and teachers is not comparable in any case”, he said.
“If we want to get out of current crisis and be independent then we have to be careful about the lives of teachers,” he said. Jalili said, “I want to provide teachers’ salaries from domestic revenue.”
He added he would not take foreign aid if he becomes president and he would increase domestic revenue during his first year in office by $20 billion.
Imaginary and deceptive pledges
Economists believe Jalili’s pledges are not practical considering the country’s financial dependency on foreign aid and current resources.
Taj Mohammad Akbar, a economics lecturer at Kabul University, said that Jalili’s promise to increase teachers’ salaries to 70,000 afghanis was an imaginary pledge and was not applicable by any means in the current situation.
“These are imaginary goals, achieving these goals needs a plan, domestic resources should be measured, if we want to earn money from agriculture and mines, it requires capacity and not possible in short time,” he said.
About Afghanistan’s more than 50 percent financial dependency on foreign aid that is declining gradually, he said, “His (Jalili’s) pledges are impractical, it is like someone claims he can (travel a 200 kilometers) destination in two hours on a bicycle.”
“These types of promises are deceptive and made only to woo voter,” he said.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) last year said that the international community’s assistance to Afghanistan would decline over the next two years and Afghanistan should get prepared for it.
The ADB had said that Afghanistan might face worse conditions if its government did not find an alternative to foreign aid.
Taj Mohammad Akbar said it would be a good move if the big difference between government officials salaries is reduced but it would not be possible to increase teachers’ wages to 70,000 afghanis a month.”
He said some government employees received up to $30,000 as their salaries while others received even less than $100 a month.
Qais Mohammadi, a economics lecturer in Kardan University in Kabul, also said that some candidates used to make such ‘deceptive’ pledges during campaigns. He said Jalili’s pledge was one of them.
“Our domestic revenue cannot meet our development spending or provide the expenses of our defense, how would it be possible to increase teachers’ salaries that much,” he said.
“Considering the mines extraction process, corruption and insecurity in the country, this pledge is not applicable by any means,” he said.
Outcome of truth assessment:
Pajhwok Afghan News assesses presidential candidates’ promises and explains how much are they executable or in what category, (True, Mostly True, a Half True, Mostly False and False), they are located.
Views of different sources show that increasing teachers’ salaries to 70,000 afghanis a month is not practical keeping in mind the current resources of the government.
Ahmad Shah Erfanyar
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