Indrani Biswas (not her real name) began her career 33 years ago as an assistant teacher at a prominent high school in Dhaka. She received several increments during her career spanning multiple decades.
Much to her excitement and joy, the veteran educator became her school's assistant headmistress last November. Indrani however became shocked and disappointed after learning that her promotion had actually reduced her salary from Tk24,000 to Tk22,500.
Realising that all her previously received increments are gone after she moved to a higher pay grade, Indrani turned to the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE), and the education ministry in hopes of finding a solution to her predicament, but to no avail.
"The fact that I lost my previous increments after getting promoted to the assistant head mistress is unexpected and ludicrous. I have no idea when the authorities concerned will fix this issue and allow me to draw my correct salary," she told The Business Standard.
Not only Indrani, but every educator recently made assistant head teachers at schools have received a pay chop along with their promotions due to the exiting organogram. DSHE officials said they themselves are waiting for a clarification from the education ministry over this issue.
There are around 30,000 secondary schools across the country.
Responding to a query, DSHE Director (Secondary Wing) Md Belal Hossain said, "The government made a new organogram in May this year. The assistant head teachers' problem with their pay will be resolved when it is implemented.
"We are waiting for the education ministry's clarification about this organogram. I am optimistic about a speedy solution on the matter."
Terming the whole debacle as unacceptable, Bangladesh Teachers Association's President Nazrul Islam Roni said, "The assistant teachers who got promoted to assistant head teachers have 20-30 years of experience and several increments.
"The ministry promoted these teachers, but reduced their pay. I am concerned about whether the new organogram will allow these teachers to draw their previously achieved increments. The government must include these increments to their salaries."
Meanwhile, Willes Little Flower School & College's Assistant Head Teacher Md Rafikul Islam said, "After the Covid-19 pandemic situation normalises, we will place our demands before the ministry in a bid to resolve this pay issue.
"I hope that the problem will be resolved by the new organogram. If not, we will decide our next course of action at a later time."
Promoted primary teachers hit too
In a circular issued a few months ago, the government declared that the primary school teachers will get their salaries as per the 13th grade, but it withdrew the option to include previous increments in trained teachers' pay.
The software used to calculate the teachers' salaries also excluded the benefits they had received before their latest promotion, causing the trained teachers' salaries to decrease, ministry sources have said.
There are 68,000 government primary schools with about 3.5 lakh teachers, and around half of them are trained.
On the matter, Directorate of Primary Education's Director General Alamgir Mohammad Mansurul Alam said, "We have informed the finance ministry about the issue, and they are looking into the matter."
Teachers' leaders said they had sent applications to the Directorate of Primary Education from at least 30 districts to resolve this problem, but the agency is yet to take any steps in this regard.
Rangpur Cadet College Government Primary School's Assistant Teacher Rawshon Ara Bithi said, "The experienced and trained teachers are getting less salary than the newly appointed ones. This is a discriminatory move that is depriving veteran teachers.
"The government should take immediate measures to resolve this issue."
Bangladesh Primary School Assistant Teachers Association President Md Shamsuddin Masud said, "At least one lakh teachers will suffer if the primary and mass education ministry does not take steps.
"The ministry can resolve this issue by giving due increments to the teachers."