Teachers, like other civil servants across Liberia, are left disappointed by the central government for not paying their salaries before announcing the state of emergency and lockdown that has been approved for 60 days.
Payment of salaries to civil servants constituted one of the cardinal issues that citizens and some members of the Legislature were pleading for, but this plea still lies in limbo while civil servants themselves with others in the private sector are left wondering how to feed their families without money to purchase their needs.
Amid this prevailing condition, about 20 teachers of the Francis Manwian Public School in Ganta, Nimba County, will owe a debt of gratitude to their Principal, Rennie Gbatu who, having observed the difficult and seemingly hopeless situation confronting his staffs were left with, he was moved and felt a compelling need to do something to help mitigate the hardships imposed on them as a result of the lockdown. Accordingly he dug into his personal resources to purchase 20 bags of 25-kg rice for distribution among his teachers and other support staff.
Mr. Gbatu has two reasons for this initiative; firstly, he believes that as an employee of government he has the responsibility to step in the place of government when it (government) is inconvenienced and is not able to attend to its obligation right away. In another case, Mr. Gbatu is of the view that most of the teachers are not even on the payroll, and as Principal he attends meetings and workshops with big stakeholders from which, aside from his salary, he receives daily allowances.
“Even if they give some huge amount of money to the school, I will carry a lion share because of my position. Why at this time the people I work with will be going home hungry without money and I sit without finding a way to give them a little hope? This is why I talked to my wife and we took the little we had to purchase the 20 bags of rice to show our concern for them,” said Mr. Gbatu.
This kind gesture proved to be a morale booster leaving teachers and staff overcome with such emotion that they could not hold back their feelings.
“This is what an administrator does to his subordinates, but most of the private schools here make huge money and cannot even show such care to teachers, least to say paying them at this time of a health emergency,” said James Goffan, a Chemistry teacher of the school.
“Throughout our being here this is the only Principal who has taken upon himself to use his personal money from the salary he earns to buy rice for 20 teachers and support staffs, and besides that, I don’t have any history since I started teaching in Ganta here,” said Abraham Moore, a teacher.
“I was making my gari when I got a call that I should come for a 24 kg bag of rice provided by the Principal. It was a great relief to me as my salary as a vice principal cannot even allow me to take such a risk,” said Miator Beinbo, Vice Principal.
With beneficiaries hailing his kind gesture, Mr. Gbatu says in order for institutions and the general public to drive in the direction of desire, people should learn to present themselves as servants of the people rather than using positions to torment others.
According to him, he is making use of his position to get to higher authorities to place his volunteer teachers on the payroll because it is his responsibility to do so.
Rennie Gbatu holds a Master’s degree in Education with emphasis in Curriculum Innovation and Development. With his principal as an educator, Gbatu says “My school is the least populated school in Ganta because students who want to jump from class to class are not allowed, and those who failed here last year are not in J.W. Pearson and other schools around here.”