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Sierra Leone News: Sierra Leone News: Teachers bite back at SLTU and 2019 budget

In the state opening of Parliament, President Maada Bio stated that without qualified teachers his flagship project of free education will not be fully implemented. He noted the New Direction Government will raise the morale and productivity of our teachers. President Bio also pronounced a Presidential Initiative for Teachers that will ensure that matters relating to teachers are treated with utmost importance. Yet with the 10% of increment in allocation in the 2019 budget in addition to the 10% increase announced in the 2018 Revised Budget in July 2018, teachers around the country still feel dissatisfied. The average teacher’s salary remains at Le1,500,000 per month without fuel allowances, medical benefits or training allowances.  Moses Amara, a teacher, described the increments as of no significant value pointing out the current economic status of the country. Amara said the 2019 budget allocated to teachers will not in any way add value to the President’s Flagship program on free and quality education as the increment will rather undermine it. He said that such allocation is a minute one pointing out the need for the 2019 budget allocation for teachers to be reviewed. Speaking on the need for government to address the conditions of service of teachers, Amara described the Sierra Leone Teachers Union as a toothless bulldog which hypocritically pretends to cater for the welfare of teachers. Amara further revealed that the SLTU executive does not in any way advocate for the needs of teachers as over the years, the SLTU’s only explanation to address the needs of teachers have been based on negotiations which he said are not yielding any dividends. Membership in the SLTU is mandatory and Le10,500 is deducted by the government for union dues. There are over 35,000 teachers in Sierra Leone and each one must pay Le10,500 each month. That’s more than Le367 million per month to the Teacher’s Union. Many teachers have questioned where the money goes and how the SLTU spends this kind of money. Alfred Turay, a teacher, pointed out that the 2019 budget allocation for teachers is not in any way favourable to teachers. He also accused the SLTU of not doing anything to cater for the welfare of teachers. Turay said, “Thousands of paid teachers in Sierra Leone are making compulsory monthly financial contributions to SLTU making it one of the richest unions in this country adding that the union is not really committed to the cause of teachers. He further said the SLTU does little or nothing to improve the lot of teachers but rather concentrate on swelling their own pockets, luxuriating in fantastic vehicles while the teachers continue to languish. All what the SLTU can boast of is Le250,000 and a bag of rice when a teacher dies.” Mohamed Koroma stated with the economic status of the country, the increment is nothing to write home about as teachers have side expenses besides their basic needs. He said, “Teachers do not enjoy free legal and medical services adding yet SLTU has not been able to successfully champion the cause to improve the condition of service of teachers. Thousands of volunteer teachers who have served for several years without salaries and even those who have added to their academic profession have not been given the required attention yet we have the SLTU,” Koroma said. Alhassan Terry, a teacher, also expressed disappointment over such a small increment stating that it does reflect a motivation for teachers to add up to service delivery in terms of education. He said the MPs are being greedy and selfish when it is the teachers, nurses and security forces that should be making big money – not MPs. Augusta Kamara described the budget as unfair to teachers adding that with all the dirty work done by teachers, yet teachers have been treated with no respect because their take home cannot afford to take them anywhere. Kamara said that the demands by SLTU are a decorative instrument for the union to follow the crowd, which she said the union really is not serious about the genuine concerns of teachers. SLTU repeatedly refused to comment on the allegations or the basis of the press release calling for improvement of condition of service of teachers.

SV/6/11/18

By Sylvia Villa

Wednesday November 7, 2018.

 

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