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Liberian Teachers Enter Second Week of Strike

  • James Butty

In Liberia, teachers of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) in Monrovia have begun their second week of what they called a “go-slow action” to demand salary increases.

The teachers are ignoring a plea from the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to return to their classes.

The government said it will address the teachers’ demands early next year, after it has purged the education payroll of so-called “ghost” teachers.

In a late development, students of the MCSS threatened Sunday to hold a peaceful stand-in action in front of the offices of Sirleaf’s office.

Benedict Wreh, president of the MCSS Teachers’ Association, said the teachers are demanding salary increases, transportation allowances and scholarships.

“Let me just give the three major ones [demands] that were put before government to be addressed. They are number-one, salary increment, two, transportation allowances, and three, both international and local scholarships to be given to the teachers to improve themselves,” he said.

Wreh said, while the government has increased other civil servants’ salaries, it has paid little attention to the teachers’ repeated demands.

“In fact, when the national budget for 2011-2012 was being debated at the national legislature, we wrote the national legislature concerning our demands. Up to [this] date, they have yet to address themselves to the issues. They continue to tell us there are ghost names on the various payrolls,” Wreh said.

He said teachers’ salaries in Liberia today range between US$140 to US$500 per month depending on their level of education.

Wreh said the teachers are demanding their salaries match their levels of education and the cost of living increase.

“The minimal salary that we are demanding for our janitors is US$200. We want the “C” certificate holders, or least teachers, to earn US$250, “B” certificate holders US$300, associate degree holders US$350, bachelor’s degree holders US$600, and US$750 for master’s degree holders,” Wreh said.

He said the teachers are also asking the government for an additional US$50 monthly in transportation allowances.

Despite several attempts, VOA was unable to reach the Minister of Education for comment.