President George M. Weah has approved a US$1 million honorarium for private school teachers across the country.
The honorarium, President Weah said, is in recognition of the financial difficulties private school teachers are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which intensified in the country earlier this year.
According to the government, some owners of private schools, including faith-based schools, have been unable to pay their teachers and faculties since February 2020, owing to limited or no tuition payment.
“Some parents and guardians, and students that are self-sponsored, have attributed their inability to pay balance tuition to a significant reduction in economic activities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Having observed and studied the impact of the pandemic on the private school systems, especially their teachers and faculties, President Weah, in consultation with the National Legislature, has instructed the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to provide US$1 million out of the FY19/20 surplus to pay as an honorarium to private school teachers who have not been paid for the past seven months,” a release from the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism said.
The release added that the move is the Government’s way of assisting private schools and their teachers as they prepare for the resumption of normal school activities.
“Pursuant to this objective, the government has constituted a vetting and payment task force to identify and pay eligible teachers and administrators of the different private schools across the country. The task force comprises the Ministries of Education as chair, Finance and Development Planning, the Civil Service Agency, and the Internal Audit Agency,” the release said.
According to the release, owners of private schools are requested to submit their last updated payrolls to the taskforce through the Ministry of Education for validation before payment. The release added that the payroll submission must include payment details such as account numbers, mobile money numbers, and National Biometric Identification Numbers.
“Private School Systems are also required to submit evidence of the last payment of withholding on income tax to the Liberia Revenue Authority,” the release said. “As the government exerts effort to make these payments, it extends thanks and appreciation to teachers of private schools and encourages them to support their respective institutions.
It can be recalled that the National Teachers’ Association of Liberia (NTAL) in June 2020 called on the government to provide financial compensation to private school teachers who have been left with “no financial support” due to school closures by the coronavirus pandemic.
Confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic in early March, the Government decided to close all educational institutions, both public and private, to contain the spread of the virus.
The closure, according to NTAL’s President Mrs. Mary W.M. Nyumah, has had a huge financial impact on teachers, especially private teachers, who are out of work and have to depend on their little savings to cater to their needs.