Making Small Steps Toward the Big Picture
Set apart by its commitment to put every donor dollar to Togo’s primary school children, the SET Board recently made two decisions. The first involved a major upgrade of classroom materials in 20 SET classrooms. The second was to give the same salary top-up to Intern Teachers in non-SET schools as to what SET Intern Teachers now receive, provided both schools are on the same site.
Crayons, markers, chalk, pencils, the school supplies every CP1 (grade one) child needs were seriously lacking in SET classrooms. Despite SET providing supplies for each of its newly built schools nothing had been renewed. With his gentle determination Jean-Paul Mlope (SET’s pedagogical mentor) organized a process for the provision of fresh supplies.
First, he interviewed SET teachers to hear their ideas on what items would contribute best to children’s learning. Then, to find the best price, Jean-Paul visited six suppliers in Lomé. With the Board’s ready agreement, he contracted with the winning bidder on March 6. Delivery by March 8 has ensured more than 1000 SET kids are writing with fresh chalk and colouring with new crayons.
As a value, fairness to and equality of persons has been a key SET motivator. In 2014 when the Board first decided to top up the small salaries of the Intern Teachers, they could see that a better and fairer wage would keep Intern Teachers in the SET classrooms. Continuity made for better teaching and learning.
In early 2021 Jean-Paul drew the SET Board’s attention to eight sites where a SET school coexists with another primary school. Although the Intern Teachers do the same work in both, one group was recognized while the other wasn’t. In one of the SET schools the Intern Teachers shared their top-up with the non-SET teachers, a kind but unsustainable compromise.
At the beginning of March, SET President Don Barclay communicated the Board’s decision to Jean-Paul. Right away those 15 teachers in adjacent non-SET schools received the top-up retroactively, and then would continue to receive the additional amount for the ten months they teach each year.
Another teacher bonus decision was made in keeping with the SET vision to improve the standard of primary teaching. For each teacher from either SET or adjacent non-SET schools, an incentive of one month’s salary is being offered to complete the Certificate of Pedagogical Competence, the highest-level teaching certificate in Togo.
As Don says, “Fairness is not just about treatment, but also about incentive. We’re interested in supporting the best possible primary teaching throughout the country. But we know we have to start small.”