August 20, 2019
By: Frederick V. Kanneh
While teachers across the country have threatened to stage a sit-down strike action on the reopening of schools, Minister of Finance has told journalists during the government weekly press briefing on Thursday that, the conditions of service for teachers, including improved salaries and other additional facilities, would be embedded in the 2020 budget.
Jacob Jusu Saffa made the above statement while responding to questions put to him by Concord Times reporter with regards the conditions of service for teachers across the country.
When the free quality education was introduced in 2018, the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU) advocated urgent improvement in the conditions of service for teachers so as to ensure success in the implementation of the scheme.
Despite announcing ten percent increment in the salary of public sector in the supplementary and 2019 budgets presented by Finance Minister Jacob Jusu Saffa, the SLTU executive committee argued that the increment meant nothing without better conditions of service for teachers.
In a press release dated 4th November 2018 and signed by Acting Secretary General Morris S. Conteh, the teachers’ union noted that the right of every child to free quality education meant a corresponding right to a better paid and well-motivated teacher.
“While noting the provision made for workers, including teachers in the 2019 budget, we want to urge the government to speedily conclude the proposed negotiations as provided for in the collective bargaining machinery for teachers,” the release stated.
Also, Voice of Teachers had demanded among others, the recruitment of up to 10,000 teachers to augment the free quality education, increase in the salaries of teachers to six million Leones, provision of allowances, and the improvement of the status of principals in all schools across the country.
According to JJ Saffa, the Bio led administration had a whole package for teachers along with the free quality education, but that they first decided on prioritizing the payment of school fees, supply of school materials and school feeding programme.
He said government has instructed the Ministry of Junior and Senior Secondary Education to recruit 5000 teachers, reiterating that they would consider the increment of teachers’ salaries, among other facilities, in the next budget.
“We have a whole package for teachers in respect with their condition of services. We have already started approving about a significant amount of them and their conditions of service would be the next step this government is going to consider during the next budget allocation,” he said.
He also added that the government’s plans for teachers remained intact because they are taken in a high esteem by the government.