Following weeks of strike in demand of their names to be placed on government regular payroll, teachers assigned to public schools in Bong County under the banner, “Supplementary Pay Teachers” on Thursday, October 18, abandoned their protest action and returned to class.
Public schools across the county remained empty for almost two weeks, as over 200 teachers demanded that their names be placed on government’s regular payroll, instead of being paid through the supplementary pay; a non-regular, performance-based payment.
Bong County Chief Education Officer, Armah Varfee, informed journalists on Wednesday, October 17, that his office reached an agreement with leaders of the striking teachers following an hour-long meeting to find workable solution to the teachers’ demand.
“We need our kids back in school, and also our teachers back in class,” Mr. Varfee said, but did not disclose the contents of the agreement his office reached with the aggrieved teachers.
He subsequently assured the irate teachers that his office, in close consultation with authorities at the Ministry of Education, has reached a commitment in addressing their concerns.
Although some of the teachers have resumed active teaching work, Mr. Varfee did not say the specific of the resolution.
“Our commitment to finding a solution has been consistent, because we stand together for our students, our communities and our country,” Varfee said.
He informed the teachers that his office will soon embark on a county tour to identify ghost names that would serve as possible entry for some of the names of the ‘supplementary pay teachers’ to be transferred on government’s regular payroll.
Varfee then used the occasion to appeal to education stakeholders to assign at least a vehicle (4-wheel drive) to his office to enhance the operations of the ministry in the county.
Spokesman for the aggrieved teachers Josiah Kollie, corroborated Mr. Varfee’s statement to the press that the two parties have agreed “somewhat” that teachers would return to their classrooms. “We are taking this deal in good faith at this point, but the teachers could be called to strike again if progress is not made.”
“The benefits of teaching are terrible, and the pay is appalling, because there is no incentive for the teachers stay on job, except that this is our home,” Kollie said.
He said the teachers are sensitive to the impact of their action on the County’s more than 55,000 public school students, many of who come from low-income families.