Protesting ‘Teachers’ Seek Ellen’s Intervention

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Over 100 “teachers,” whose names were deleted by authorities at the Ministry of Education (MOE) Wednesday, November 13, besieged the vicinity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) seeking for the intervention of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to resolve the impasse.

Among the protesting teachers were also students from the William V.S. Tubman Teachers’ College at the University of Liberia (UL). They too recently staged a protest at the Sinkor 3rd Street offices of the MOE in Monrovia where they made demands for per diem and other fees.

The chairman/spokesman for the aggrieved teachers, Gongben Odysseus Kepah, told the Daily Observer that those deleted from the payroll numbered over 2,000 teachers from across the country.

The teachers, Kepah said, are being grossly affected by MOE’s recent decision to delete their names from the payroll.

Yesterday’s action by the aggrieved teachers was held under the banners of the Movement for the Reinstatement of Deleted Teachers Across Liberia (MORDTAL).

MORDTAL is an auxiliary of the 15 Counties’ Teachers Welfare Council, another conglomeration of teachers that has been advocating for replaced, deleted and the vendor teachers.

While standing in the heavy downpour of rain, they displayed placards with the inscriptions: “Teachers are not slaves, but role models,” and that “We need our retroactive pay and reinstatement,” etc.

They told this paper that the MOE had refused to pay them their eight months salary arrears.

 “We were in the classrooms at our assigned areas in the various counties about eight months when the MOE deleted our names.”

 Therefore, he said, there was the need for the MOE to pay them and reassign them to the various posts at their previous school in the counties.

 According to him, the MOE assertion that some of them (teachers) had fake credentials was far from the truth.

“This is not true, and I am prepared to defend my colleagues who the MOE claims had fake documents, because we have challenged the MOE and had refused to respond.”

He said, among other things that the names of the teachers were deleted in categories by the MOE and replaced with, “fraudulent and fake names designed to frustrate the teachers.”

Those affected include teachers whose names have already been deleted by the MOE from the payroll, the replaced teachers, and those under the category of the “vendor teachers.”

Meanwhile, the MOE through its Director of Communications, J. Maxim Bleetain, recognized the teachers concerns, but said the MOE authorities had convened an “urgent meeting to address them.”

“We are holding series of meetings with the striking teachers concerned on the agenda,” Mr. Bleetain promised with confidence.

Until this paper went to press, it was not clear whether the protesting teachers were allowed to dialogue with President Sirleaf yesterday.

Along with the teachers, were students from the University of Liberia’s W.V.S. Tubman Teachers’ College, who had also gathered to demand from the MOE authorities payment for their tuition and scholarship fees reportedly promised them by the government.

They waved placards and chanted slogans as anti-riot police were on hand at the main entrance to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which houses President Sirleaf’s offices.

In 2011, the MOE signed a deal with several students requiring them to return to rural communities across the country to teach upon graduation.

 Under the terms of agreement with the MOE and the teachers’ training scholarship scheme, graduates of the Tubman Teachers’ College are required to go back to their county of origin to teach upon graduation.

On that note, the MOE reportedly agreed to pay the students US$30 as stipend, while undergoing their studies as pre-service instructors, etc.

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