Go-slow Hits Catholic Schools

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The Association of Catholic Teachers and Staff (ACTS) in the Monrovia Archdiocese of the Catholic Church said they have planned to go-slow due to what they described as “mockery of their profession” by authorities at the Catholic Educational Secretariat (CES).

The ACTS officials told the Daily Observer Sunday, March 9, there were two things driving them to go-slow. First, according to them, is a long overdue salary increment and second, harmonization of the teachers’ payroll across all Catholic Schools.

Concerning the increment, Ernest Belleh, acting president of ACTS, said when they raised the issue last school year the CES had spoken with them and then initiated a tripartite committee comprising of representatives of ACTS, CES and the Parents Teachers Association (PTA). The committee was headed by Mr. D. Ambrose Nmah, Director-General of the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS).

A member of ACTS, who spoke with the Observer said Mr. Nmah’s committee did a “beautiful piece of documentation” and presented it to the CES, which then promised to act on the recommendations within.

According to this member, who asked not to be named, the document contained “important things” in relation to the teachers’ welfare. However, since it was submitted to the CES it has been downplayed by the Archdiocesan Educational Council, the educational board for the Archdiocese, our source said.

According to this source, one of the recommendations included a retroactive payment to the teachers. “We had asked for 25 percent retroactive payment beginning September, 2013. They said that they would only give us 10 percent, which we would immediately receive at the beginning of the second semester of 2013/2014 school year,” he stated.

The second semester began in February 2014 and nothing has been done towards the teachers’ demands.  Instead, “they decided to increase the schools’ administrators’ salaries from L$14,000 for ‘C’ certificate level holders to L$20,000 for Master’s level holders,” he said. Our source stated they only made the discovery of the increment when a copy of this document was leaked to them.

“This is what made teachers angry. We are the ones making money for the Catholic School System and yet they treat us like we are slaves?” our source asked, rhetorically.

Our source said after they saw the leaked document, officials of ACTS went back to the CES and it was agreed upon that the retroactive payment would begin by February and end in June, 2014. “Unfortunately, after we agreed they later told us that they would do the retroactive in two installments. They would pay one in this academic school year and another in the 2014/2015 academic school year; this is a total mockery of our profession.”

Our source and Ernest Belleh also disclosed that presently the Catholic School System’s salary structure for teachers ranges from L$7,000 to L$10,000 for bachelor degree holders and “this depends on what discipline you got your bachelors in,” Belleh was quick to add. He said that if it is in Education, then you might be around the L$10,000 mark.

Belleh, who is a teacher at the St. Cathleen McGuire Memorial Catholic School in the Rehab Community, explained further to the Observer the teachers had also requested there be harmonization of the payroll for all teachers within the Catholic School System.

“If a BSc holder at McGuire would be paid a certain amount, that should be the same amount paid to another BSc holder at Cathedral Catholic School on Ashmun Street or St. Teresa Convent on Randall Street. This should happen because the tuition for each of these institutions is the same for all schools within the Monrovia Archdiocese,” he further disclosed.

Belleh said they had instructed all their members to report to their various campuses and just sign in but not go to classes. “They are to remain on campus until after the official school hours and then leave,” he added. He said they would continue their action until their demands are met.

The Daily Observer contacted Rev. Father Sumo Varfee Mulbah, a senior official at the CES.

Father Mulbah did not confirm nor deny the teachers’ claim. He rather extended an invitation to the Daily Observer to meet him at his office for the CES’ official response, today, Monday, March 9.

The Catholic Church in Liberia has one of the best school systems in the country, and as such, many parents and guardians prefer to send their children to their institutions across Liberia. But with this latest action coming from the teachers, this could be a nose dive for the rating of the Catholic schools, especially the ones in the Monrovia Archdiocese.

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