A report released by actionaid has condemned the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for their wage bill ceiling on the recruitment of teachers set for Sierra Leone.
In the report entitled “confronting the contradictions- the IMF, wage bill caps and the case for teachers,” they point out that placing a ceiling on the wage bill is customary and makes financial sense because it is important to ensure that the wage bill does not spiral out of control.
The report however notes that despite the seemingly solid rationale for constraining the growth of the civil service, it is important to look carefully at how the ceiling is calculated, which information is used in these calculations and the level at which the ceiling is set.
The report reveals that the wage bill ceiling in Sierra Leone is set as an indicative target, but because it is so stringent the government was forced to place a cap on teachers.
The report goes on to note that in recent years Sierra Leone has formally abolished user fees in primary education-a key step towards achieving universal enrolment which has worked, as primary enrolments have dramatically increased.
It notes that teacher recruitment and training has not been able to keep up the school enrolments.
“Getting more children into primary school without a corresponding effort to employ more trained teachers does not fulfill their right to education,” the report highlights.
The actionaid report recommends that the IMF should stop attaching specific policy conditions to its lending and surveillance programmes, including on inflation levels, fiscal deficits and wage bills.
It also postulates that any advice they give must provide a range of policy options to enable governments and other stakeholders – including parliaments and civil society—to make informed choices about macroeconomic policies, wage bills and the level of social spending.
The report also recommends that governments should place education and development goals at the centre of their macroeconomic planning and that they should develop long term and costed education plans detailing the actual need for teachers and resources for training in order to provide quality learning outcomes for all girls and boys.