By Amadu Ibrahim Mansaray
Port Loko, SIERRA LEONE – The National Council of Head Teachers (NACHOT) for Port Loko District and the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU) are calling on the Sierra Leonean government to release the remaining 30% of the promised salary increment as a lump sum, given the prevailing economic challenges in the country.
Speaking with Awoko Newspaper on the occasion of World Teachers Day at the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education (MBSSE) grounds in Port Loko City, Mr. Ibrahim Koroma, Chairman of NACHOT, emphasized the importance of the government’s commitment to their request.
He pointed out that “the current salaries, when compared to the cost of living, are inadequate. If you receive a take-home pay of NLe1,300 or NLe1,500 and a bag of rice costs NLe800 or more, you must think about how to arrange for food. With just NLe50 remaining, it’s not enough to cover daily meals. The government had promised the SLTU a 45% salary increment to be implemented over three years. They have already paid the first 15%, but I recommend that the remaining 30% be paid in a lump sum. This would help us cope with the current economic challenges,” stressed the Chairman.
Mr. Athor Basco Kamara, Senior Assistant Secretary from SLTU headquarters, echoed these sentiments when speaking to Awoko about the significance of their celebration and the steps taken to address teachers’ challenges in the country. He discussed the union’s efforts in negotiating with the government.
Mr. Kamara underlined that World Teachers Day serves as a catalyst to draw the government’s attention to the welfare and working conditions of teachers.
“Education is the yardstick of development. We are calling on the government to adequately motivate teachers to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the classroom. We have no option but to advocate for improved conditions of service for our teachers. The economic situation is deteriorating, and teachers are bearing the brunt of it. Schools are instructing teachers not to collect money from students, not to hold extra classes, and so on. If teachers are not well-compensated, it becomes a hindrance. Teachers need to cover transport expenses and provide for their families. The government must address this and ensure teachers are well remunerated,” he declared.
Mr. Kamara emphasized that the increased enrolment of pupils in schools means more work for teachers. If one teacher is tasked with managing a class of 50, 60, or even 70 students, it places a significant burden on the teacher. He underscored the need for corresponding salary adjustments, stating, “When teachers have more responsibilities, they should receive fair compensation for their increased workload.” AIM/6/10/2023