A professional classroom teacher, Eric Kuillegar has told the Daily Observer that he is renouncing the teaching profession to venture into the gold mining.
Mr. Kuillegar, in an interview with this reporter recently at an acquaintance programme organized by MNG Gold, a Turkish mineral mining company at the Sayeweh Town Public School in Kokoyah Statutory District, said he determined to relinquish the field of pedagogy to engage in gold mining in order to sustain his family. MNG Gold is currently operating in the gold rich area of Dean Town, previously operated by AMLIB Minerals before quitting the area in 2013.
“I have been in the teaching field for the past fourteen years providing voluntary services without me being enlisted on government’s payroll. You think I do not need my children to pursue higher education and my family to live a better life? I favor venturing into gold mining than the classroom now,” said Mr. Kuillegar who is also a graduate of the Zorzor Rural Teaching Training Institute (ZRTTI).
He informed this paper that he was tired with the classroom on grounds that educational authorities in the county have persistently paid deaf ears to his plight to place him on government’s payroll.
The Sayeweh Town Public School was constructed by AMLIB in 2008 in an effort to buttress government free and compulsory primary education, but it was government’s prerogative to assign qualified teachers at the school. The school currently has six classroom teachers including the principal, but has no one on the government’s payroll as teacher.
The teacher-turned-gold miner noted that he has observed over the years that government trained teachers from the TTIs are faced with extreme difficulty getting on government’s payroll, something he said may lead the classrooms particularly in the interior to be completely deserted.
Sayeweh Town is situated few miles from Dean Town, known as “Gold Camp”, the gold deposit area in Kokoyah Statutory District.
MR. Kuillegar specified that although the gold mining requires physical work but he will have economic redemption as compared to the classroom.
“I have been in the classroom for fourteen consecutive years but there is nothing I can brag of in terms of property; but with gold mine, I am sure of going home with something,” he said.
Mr. Kuillegar told this reporter that he has already tendered his resignation in a letter to the District Education Officer for Kokoyah.
When contacted via mobile phone, the District Education Officer for Kokoyah Mr. George Garmechee confirmed the resignation of Mr. Eric Kuillegar but was swift to inform this paper that his office in collaboration with the government of Liberia was doing everything to ensure that teachers are placed on salaries.
Public school teachers in Bong County in recent times have instituted a countywide go-slow action in demand of employment and better salaries.
Also speaking to this paper, Mr. Adolphus Zankpah, an elder of the town, said the departure of Mr. Kuillegar will paralyze the learning environment in the town and its surrounding villages, particularly in the post-Ebola period, since government employed teachers are not willing to take assignment in the rural areas.
For the 2013/2014 academic school year, the Sayeweh Town Public School before the Ebola outbreak had an enrolment of about 350 students. However, that number is expected to climb as a result of the desire for parents to send their children school following government’s pronouncement of free tuition for all public schools for this academic year.
The elder said He said if government does not act quickly to arrest the situation, nearly all the teachers will abandon the classroom to go the gold mine for quick money with the presence of MNG Gold in the area.