UAE government raises teacher salaries as it launches hiring drive in India

The UAE has launched a major drive to lure leading teachers from India to work in Emirati government schools by offering them significant salary hikes. Hundreds of candidates have attended recent open days in Mumbai and Delhi, where teachers take examinations and sit interviews to assess their suitability for what are believed to be about 3,000 available jobs. The initiative is part of a reform programme to enhance standards in state-run schools, following concerns that some compare poorly with private institutions.

A recruitment company hired to fill the posts said a challenge was not finding Indian teachers interested in jobs, but convincing possible candidates that the scheme is not a scam, given the large number of fraudulent offers promising lucrative roles in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. The salary on offer to successful candidates, Dh16,000 per month, is more than ten times the salary an average Indian teacher can expect to earn in their home country, experts said. The tax-free pay packets on offer have led many to believe the opportunity was ‘too good to be true’. Government school salaries have typically been lower than private schools, though it varies between the emirates. Starting salaries in Abu Dhabi’s public schools have previously been in the Dh12,500 range. Some lower-end private schools offer regular less than Dh4,000 with no accommodation allowance. That rises to about Dh17,000 plus accommodation in top-rated schools.

The ministry told The National that the recruitment drive in India was genuine. The British firm Worldteachers, a recruitment company working on the project, said it had been inundated with applications ahead of the assessment days in late March and earlier this month.

“We’re now at the stage that people have been getting the offers after the interviews, and they’ve been very slow in giving their documents, because they’re still thinking it’s too good to be true,” said Roddy Hammond, the founder and CEO of Worldteachers Recruitment.

“But the people who are successful are extremely well-qualified, will have very strong subject knowledge and a good level of English.

“We are looking to pass on this opportunity to strong teachers, we’ve been very strict.” He insisted the scheme would be good for India as well as the UAE, saying cash sent back home would boost the Indian economy while teachers would also gain valuable experience which they could put to use when they return. The Indian teachers will typically be given two-year contracts, although these can be extended. The Ministry of Education confirmed the Dh16,000 does not include accommodation costs although a flight ticket, medical insurance and visa is covered. The teachers could be placed at any secondary-level public school in the Emirates and must have a degree in their teaching subject or education.

Contracts are expected to begin from the end of July this year.

Teacher salaries in India can vary significantly, depending on the location of a school and whether it is government-run or private. Salaries for government teachers in India have risen recently following large-scale review of public sector wages, but salaries are often far lower in the private sector.

This week, a report by auditors PwC predicted a decline in enrolment in schools offering the Ministry of Education curriculum, as well as a fall in the overall share of students attending government schools. It attributed the drop in ministry’s curriculum to a preference among parents for more international schools.

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