Over 200 public school teachers in Bong County under the nomenclature, "Supplementary Teachers," have laid down their chalks in demand for the government to place their names on the regular payroll.
"We will not return to the classroom until the government through the Ministry of Education (MoE) can see the reason to place our names on the regular salary," said Joseph Kollie, secretary general of the Supplementary Teachers in Bong County.
Supplementary teachers are those whose names are not on government's regular payroll, but are paid at the discretion of the government, despite their qualification as teachers.
Mr. Kollie told the Daily Observer yesterday, October 10 in Gbarnga that, for the past ten years, some of them have worked as supplementary teachers, but are being paid as low as L$6,000, L$7,000 or L$9,000, in spite of their educational qualifications. Some of them, he said, Bachelor's degree holders.
According to him, they would continue the strike action until the MoE authorities can address the concern.
"What provoked us to down our chalks is the failure of the MoE to live up to its obligation, because they previously promised us, since August of this academic year, to increase our salaries by September to the level of regular payroll teachers as per our qualifications. Since then, we are yet to hear from the ministry," Kollie said.
When the Daily Observer visited some of the government-run schools in Gbarnga, it was established that the teachers had abandonded some of their classes, leaving students to meander around the campus to the displeasure of school administrators.
Some high school students who spoke to this newspaper on condition of anonymity, said they have planned to stage a peaceful street protest on Monday October 15 in support of the supplementary teachers' demand.
"Our action to carry out a peaceful street protest is to draw attention of MoE in addressing the plights of the poor supplementary teachers. We therefore call on private schools not to open on that day," a student leader from the government-run Dolokelen Gboveh High School warned.
County Education Officer
But appearing on a community radio station in Gbarnga, the County Education Officer for Bong, Armah Varfee, acknowledged that "the teachers started laying down their chalks a couple of days ago, but we called on the them to exercise restraint" as his office is in constant communication with the central office in Monrovia to address their concerns in the shortest time possible.
"Not all of the teachers will be placed on the regular salary at the same time, but everybody's name will be absorbed one after the other as time goes by," Mr. Varfee assured the aggrieved teachers.