Teachers and education minister
It is not yet clear whether the Minister of Education, Science & Technology, Dr. Minkailu Bah (photo) was speaking the truth when he said on television on the eve of the re-opening of schools that the so-called ‘enhanced package’ for teachers had been paid into individual school accounts and that the package would be ready for onward payment to teachers by the following Monday 19th September 2011.
Those parents who heard him that evening were much relieved, hoping that the teachers’ threat to embark on a strike action on the re-opening of schools would be averted.
Knowing fully well that the teachers’ strike action was usually a prolonged and painful affair with parents and pupils bearing the brunt of it both physically and psychologically, it was good news that this year’s re-opening of schools would be hitch free.
It however came as a surprise to many when on the first week of the re-opening of schools children were sent back home for the simple reason that teachers were in no mood or rather in no hurry to enter any classroom as their minister had proved a liar.
Teachers, we are told, were incensed by the mystery around the ‘enhanced package’. It seemed no one knew what was contained in the minister’s package except by mere guess.
Initially, when a cross section of the teachers met at the Government Rokel School, Tower Hill, it was decided that they with hold their service until they were clear about their package.
Meanwhile, other group of teachers had earlier indicated that the issue had been resolved and had therefore urged their colleagues to return to their classes. However, many others did not see it that way.
From our independent investigation, we learned that the role of the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU) had been somewhat hypocritical. Most of the misunderstanding between the government and the teachers had been blamed not so much on the minister but largely on the union which the teachers say had not represented their interest appropriately.
For now there is a whole lot of confusion around the teachers’ enhanced package. While some teachers seem to be on a ‘go-slow’ others believe there can only be effective teaching and learning when government completely resolves the issue of teachers’ condition of service.
Be that as it may, we in this medium wish to appeal to both parties (government and the teachers) to sit together and work out a way forward in order to end this standoff between the two once and for all, so that this bad practice of delaying payment of teachers’ salaries or the perennial problem of approving new teachers would be laid to rest now and forever.
This is our appeal as a news medium.
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