By Alfred Koroma
The Deputy Head Teacher of St.John Primary school, Mrs. Joyce M.P Leigh has in an exclusive interview told Concord Times that they didn’t strike but that they were not happy with the current salary they were receiving as teachers.
“I’m a Deputy Head Teacher and I’m still underpaid. We are not happy and government needs to do more,” she said, calling on government to consider the reason some of her colleagues are proposing a strike action.
Few days before schools reopened yesterday, a press statement trending on social media believed to have come from a group known as Teachers Solidarity Movement called on teachers all over the country not to resume work in protest of low salary scale and poor conditions of service. The release describes Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU) as a ‘toothless bulldog’, blaming the Union for failing to advocate on their behalf.
However, the strike action which the Movement proposed to start yesterday did not come into effect. Schools have reopened, and learning has begun. Some teachers from various secondary schools who spoke to this medium claimed they are unaware of any proposed strike action.
But Mrs. Leigh admitted to be aware of the trending release pushing for the strike action on social media but said resuming school yesterday was best for the interest of the children.
Government of Sierra Leone has over two years back made 30 percent increment on teachers’ salaries. But it seems the increment does not at the moment, rhyme with the present cost of living.
The country has been hit by consistent rising prices of basic services and commodities, prompting increasing calls on government to increase monthly wages of workers.
In its press release published last month, Sierra Leone Labour Congress (SLLC) noted that cost of living in the country has seriously eroded the earning power of citizens and negatively impacted the living standard of the general populace.
President Julius Maada launched the FQE project for all government and government assisted primary and secondary schools in the country, and directed bulk of the country’s resources to the project. Currently the education sector takes 22 percent of the national budget and 40 percent of the Government monthly wage bill goes to the teachers.
A representative of the teachers who spoke to SLBC radio morning Coffee program last week said the current salary paid to teachers is not a living wage, comparing their salaries to other staff in MDAs whom he claimed are receiving far better than them. He called on the Government to look into their concern. Although Government is making effort promote free quality education, the quality lies with teachers. Therefore, we are asking for a living wage, he added.