The Inquirer (Monrovia)

6 June 2014

Liberia: MCSS Teachers End Strike Action

Teachers of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) have finally agreed to go back to the classrooms after a strike action earlier this week.

According to the MCSS Superintendent, Benjamin Jacob, after consultations with the leadership of the teachers and top government officials, two out of three of the teachers' demands were met and this has prompted them to resume work as soon as possible.

Speaking during the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) weekly press briefing, the MCSS Superintendent said that the teacher's demand for transportation allowance is not feasible because it would mean an additional US$650,000 in the MCSS budget and the government does not have that money at this stage.

Superintendent Jacob said since taking over at the MCSS he has tried to solve the transportation problems that the teachers are faced with and because of the locations of teachers it has been a serious problem. For example the Superintendent explained how he tried to add buses for teachers in the budget but fuel and maintenance became a big problem.

He said he tried to work with the National Transit Authority (NTA) to have teachers get special identification cards to enter the buses but the routes that the buses use cannot reach to teachers that are far as Johnsonville.

Mr. Jacob said the MCSS and the leadership of the teachers are still working out ways to meet up with the concerns of the teachers regarding transportation.

The MCSS teachers along with the government delegation agreed on two other issues that halted the strike action by the teachers and they are the issue of retro-active pay that involves the Civil Service Agency (CSA) and effective this month; that issues would be laid to rest and teachers would see changes in their salaries.

The retro-active salary involves teachers who have acquired higher education and earned a bachelor's or masters degree and they have to be paid as such, so beginning this pay term those teachers affected would see a difference.

The other issue that led to the strike action by MCSS teachers was salary deduction for union dues and insurance policies. The MCSS boss said that too was an issue for the CSA and after meeting with the CSA there needs to be consent signatures or required signatures before the CSA can deduct from salaries, so when those signatures are established that would be indicated in teachers' salaries.

Other than the issue with teachers the MCSS Superintendent said the institution has been making gains especially when it comes to removing ghost names and that, there are no longer ghost names on the roster of the MCSS.

Facelift for several schools have also been carried out with more to come and the hiring of guidance counselors in many of the MCSS schools has also been initiated. He added that civics has also been added to the curriculum as well as reading rooms and libraries in several schools.

The Superintendent for MCSS, Benjamin Jacob concluded that school feeding remains a major challenge because one in every thirteen students do not have the required feeding before school something that leads to poor performance.

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