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What May Cause a Delay in Teachers’ Salary?

What May Cause a Delay in Teachers’ Salary?

Anytime there is a delay in payment of Teachers’ Salaries, the public raises eye brows at the Ministry of Education and blames the government for not doing enough to effect payments in a timely manner. Teachers, unlike Lecturers, are recruited by the Ministry of Education and the timely payment of their salaries is usually facilitated by the Ministry of Education. We would therefore like to inform the public that it is not all delays in payment of salaries that is caused by the Ministry of Education. As a matter of fact, the Ministry is hardly responsible for delays in Teacher salary payments; and where the Ministry is directly responsible, it has always endeavoured to rectify the situation before it becomes intolerable.  (Photo: Brima M Turay, PRO, Ministry of Education, Science & Technology)

Up until 2006, what used to happen was that at the start of every school year Principals and Headmasters of schools would recruit Teachers to fill all vacant teaching positions in their respective schools pending approval for payment of salaries for such recruitment by the Accountant General through the Ministry of Education. The Principals and Headmasters would then submit the application forms for these new recruits to the Ministry of Education for verification and to facilitate the approval process. The verification process usually takes time because the Ministry of Education wants to make sure they are not recruiting “Ghost Teachers” into the system. Other factors like late submission of verifiable documentation by new recruits or slight discrepancies in degrees and Certificates may also contribute to the delays. Consequently, for most Teachers, the delay will drag for a year or more without approval by the Ministry of Education. Some Principals and Headmasters, in a bid to retain the newly recruited Teachers, would give out loans to the new recruits with the hope of deducting such loans from their salaries when the salaries are finally approved.

By 2006, upon the recommendation of our donor partners, since our economy is mostly donor-driven, a moratorium was placed on recruiting new Teachers into the School system. The rationale was that the donor partners and the government would like to know how many Teachers are in the system so as to enhance a culture of transparency and accountability. Therefore, from 2006 to this present moment, the Ministry of Education would only approve the replacement of Teachers. If a School loses a Teacher, that particular school is mandated to replace the said Teacher by submitting the relevant documentation to the Ministry of Education through the Directorate office. The Ministry would then send the documentation of the outgoing Teacher and all relevant information of the incoming Teacher to the Accountant General at the Ministry of Finance. Once the information is verified and the Accountant General is fully satisfied with all the information supplied, the name of the new Teacher is then reflected on the payment voucher and the “Pin Code” by which the outgoing Teacher is normally identified is expunged from the system by the Accountant General and a new “Pin Code” is generated for the new Teacher to avoid duplicity in payments.

Sometimes the delay is not only caused by these necessary bureaucracies at the Ministries of Education and Finance but simply by the negligence of certain Principals and Headmasters in the manner in which they handle Teacher salary documentation and late submission of salary documentation before the deadline of the 9th day of every month. A typical example of such negligence could be found in a recent MEMO from the Accountant General at the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Education with a list of names of Schools that have not submitted a breakdown of how they expended the previous salary allocations for the period October 2012 to February 2013. Such breakdown is usually dubbed as “RETURNS”; or “Reconciliation Documents”. It is a common practice of sound accounting principles that before the Accountant General issues out a new cheque (Check) to any school Principal or Headmaster for Teachers’ salaries; the previous disbursement must be fully accounted for through acceptable documentation (RETURNS).

The Ministry of Education would therefore like the public to know that several schools in the North, East and Southern regions of the country have not submitted the said “RETURNS” at the stipulated time and could possibly experience delays in payment of salaries to Teachers in the schools so affected. The Ministry would also like the public to know that all Principals and Headmasters are aware of the deadline and have been sufficiently notified prior. Here is a breakdown, in a tabular form, of schools in Provinces and Districts that would be affected by this unfortunate situation:



Number of Primary and Secondary Schools that will be affected

Northern Kambia








  Port Loko


Southern Bo








Eastern Kenema







Total Schools


 Approximately 226 schools across the country are going to be affected by this anomaly caused by their Principals or Headmasters. This revelation is not intended to set the Teachers against their Principals or Headmasters but the Ministry has a responsibility to inform the public about any discrepancies that may possibly put the Ministry on the spotlight and consequently draw scorn and disdain from the public; particularly from the Teachers that will soon be affected. The Ministry, as part of its responsibility, and through its Directorate office, has notified the schools so affected through their Principals and Headmasters. The Ministry further wants the public to know that it is fully committed to ensuring that Teachers across the country receive their salaries on time as soon as the current “Cleaning Up” exercise is completed. The recent recruitment of 70 Inspectors of Schools will facilitate the speedy conclusion of this “Cleaning exercise”. We want to thank all Teachers, Principals and Headmasters across the country for the numerous sacrifices that they make every day in trying to improve our standard of education in the face of great challenges.

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