The International Education Agency of PNG (IEA-PNG) is the leading provider of high quality private education in Papua New Guinea.
It owns and operates 22 international schools in the country which employ close to 300 teachers and a similar number of support staff.
More than three quarters of the teachers are nationals.
Each IEA school is the sole employer of both its teachers and support staff, not the IEA management organisation at Ela Beach, Port Moresby.
The teachers are the nucleus of the IEA system that delivers quality education to both national and expatriate children in Papua New Guinea.
IEA’s competitive employment terms and conditions has been the main factor that:
(1) Enables the organisation to employ the best teachers in the country and abroad; and
(2) Drives its national teachers to deliver education services of international standards to its clients.
However, the IEA’s long established reputation as the premier provider of quality private education is now at risk after its management and board cut 50 per cent of all non-salary benefits (except housing) of its national teachers and reduced their salaries by more than 20 per cent and put them (all national teachers) on one unsustainable salary scale, regardless of ndividual teacher’s qualification, length of services, experience, etc.
The IEA management gave the excuse that the economic crisis of 2015-16 had adversely affected cash flow and hence they designed these changes to be implemented as cost saving measures from 2017 and onwards to keep the organisation afloat and safeguard the jobs of national teachers.
Despite the genuine intentions of the IEA management for this restructure, to the hardworking national teachers these changes are biased, highly discriminatory and unjustifiable.
Biased and discriminatory because these changes are made to the employment benefits and salaries of only national teachers and not the expatriate teachers and the highly-paid executive managers and consultants (both nationals and expatriates).
Unjustifiable because the cash flow crisis is a problem of the IEA management, not a problem of most of the schools (the rightful employers of the teachers).
Two main factors that have contributed to the IEA’s cash flow crisis are:
(1) Over-the-top employment benefits and salaries for executive managers and consultants; and
(2) Constant overseas and in-country trips by members of the IEA executive management.
The board did not bother to carry out its own investigations to verify the reasons (for the cash flow crisis) provided by the management and also find out other factors that contributed to the situation at the head office and recommend appropriate actions to be taken at the executive level and down.
Hence, the board has not addressed the real causes of the problem at the company’s head office, but instead made the innocent national teachers to suffer both financially and psychologically for an issue which is not their doing.
It is inevitable that many highly-experienced national teachers will leave IEA to look for greener pastures elsewhere.
The board will have its final meeting in about a week’s time and the innocent national teachers are looking forward to see whether it will reverse some of their earlier decisions.
Concerned teacher and parent