Strike Paralysis Catholic Schools

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Striking Catholic school teachers yesterday entered a third day of their demand for five months’ salary arrears by the Catholic Educational Secretariat (CES) of Monrovia.

While the striking teachers threatened to remain out of classes until their demands are met, students attending the Catholic School System, especially 9th and 12th graders, on Friday joined their parents and guardians to appeal to the teachers to resume classes.

The teachers are also demanding the resignation of Rev. Fr. P. Sumo Varflee Mulbah of the CES for what they described as his “disrespectful posture to them, just because we are teachers.”

At a well-attended meeting in Monrovia over the weekend, the teachers resolved not to return to classes until their demands are fully addressed.

The head of the Association of Catholic School Teachers and Support Staff, Alphonso Nimely Quire, strongly reaffirmed their action to keep the pressure on the CES to pay them their due salaries and other benefits dating back from September last year.

The striking teachers provoked the students to anger on Friday when they too joined their voices to demand payment of the teachers’ arrears at the Catholic Archdiocese Secretariat on Ashmun Street.

However, the students ran amok and besieged the Archdiocese until a representative from the Liberia Student Union arrived and urged them to remain calm while they pursued the matter with urgency and respect. 

For the students, particularly, the 9th and 12th graders, they are concerned about the upcoming tests which are annually administered by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) in May and June.

“We are so worried because the strike or this go-slow by our instructors will cause us not to cover most of the topics in the new curriculum for the tests in May and June,” several other senior students at the Catholic Cathedral High School on Snapper Hill told the Daily Observer yesterday.

Meanwhile, a statement on the state of affairs in the school system of the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia under the signature of P. Sumo-Varfee Molubah of the CES said, efforts are underway to resolve the impasse amicably.

According to him, an effort by the Archdiocesan Education Council (AEC), the Board that oversees the functions of the CES to address the concern raised by the representatives was almost concluded when an official communication from the Labor Ministry was received.

The communication summoned the CES to a case that had been brought by the same teachers’ representatives in connection to the same demand.

Consequently, he said, this legal action immediately halted the effort of the AEC to amicably address the teachers’ demand since the involvement of the Ministry of Labor in such a case could bring forth a ruling that cannot be predicted or ignored.

“The investigation was ongoing until yesterday at the Labor Ministry where a notice of assignment received by the CES on Friday, March 6, indicated that the next hearing on the matter was due for yesterday Monday.”

Therefore, the CES has assured parents and the students that the Catholic School System stands ready for a peaceful settlement of the matter.

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