Liberia: Catholic Teachers Resolve To Boycott Classes Over “Gross Refusal To Address Teachers Concerns”

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Monrovia – Catholic school teachers, under the banner, Association of Catholic Teachers and Support Staff (ACTS INC), have resolved to boycott classes, following for what they called, “gross refusal of the Catholic Education Secretariat (CES) to address their concerns.”

A release from ACTS INC has mandated all teachers of Catholic Schools across Liberia to stay home beginning Tuesday, October 13, until the CES can see reason to address their plight.

“By directive of ACTS INC executives, all teachers and support staffs of the Catholic Education Secretariat, are hereby mandated to stay home effectively Tuesday, October 12 until further notice,” a communication signed by ACTS INC President Alphonso Nimely Quire and Secretary Augustine Nimely said.

Mr. Nimely explained: “This is as a result of the Catholic Education Secretariat gross refusal to ahead to our demand addressed to them.”

The teachers said since they engaged the CES on addressing their welfare and salaries, nothing has been done.

The fear that CES has allegedly opened vacancies to replace them and that at the same time threatened to dismiss anyone who refuses to show up at work.

The decision to boycott classes follows one week of go-slow action by the teachers in demand of “three months’ salary.”

The teachers had been on go-slow since Monday, October 5, against what they termed as “the Catholic Education Secretariat unhealthy treatment of teachers” and “refusal to pay them.”

The go-slow was the second strike action by Catholic school teachers, between 2019 to 2020 academic year.

On Monday, February 25, 2019, catholic school teachers went on strike, calling for increment in their salary and payment of other benefits. However, they later ended their go-slow following an intervention by Education Minister Ansu Sonii to mitigate the crisis.

In his resolution, Minister Sonii said it was the ‘first time’ for him to see teachers of Catholic Schools to stage a protest, describing it is a serious concern to Liberia’s educational system. Nevertheless, Minister Sonii said negotiation was being held with the authority of the Catholic Education Secretariat to ensure that the plights of teachers are addressed.

Mr. Pious Brooks, ACTS INC Media Committee Chairman told FrontPageAfrica in a mobile phone conversation on Sunday, October 4, that several attempts have been made to ensure that teachers receive their salaries and other benefits but to no avail.

He argued that unless 11th and 10th graders, the CES has collected fees from all other classes from all of its schools across Liberia, but is yet to pay teachers for services which they were hired to offer at various Catholic schools in Liberia.

According to him, all attempts made to get the involvement of the Liberia Council of Churches, Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Education and Liberia National Students Union in helping to resolve their plights proofs ‘futile.’

“After all negotiations with the Catholic Education Secretariat, the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia and other important stakeholders fail, we the Teachers of the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia, in a mass meeting held on October 3, unanimously agreed to lay down the chalk and other instructional materials as of Monday, October 5, until our demands are met,” a statement signed by Mr. Brooks and ACTS Inc. Media 
Committee Secretary, E. Kloteh Seator said.

They are demanding CES to pay them all arrears owed, from May to July, payment of National Social Security Premier of each teacher and support staff and issue them valid Social Security Cards, reduction of probation period for employment from three years to three months, include ACTS in the formation of the new personnel policy manual of the system and, that CES issue payslip to teachers and support staff of the system indicating gross salary, deduction and net balance.

Meanwhile, ACTS is calling on all teachers within the Catholic Education System not to take any instruction from the Secretariat until these demands are met.

“We, therefore, call on all teachers and support staff to adhere to this mandate and to take no instruction from any administrator until further notice. You are only instructed to take instruction from ACTS INC Executives.

When contacted via mobile phone Monday, October 12, the Secretary of the Catholic Education Secretariat Rev. Fr. Sumo Varfee told FrontPageAfrica that he could not speak on the matter, but rather referred this paper to “the office”

“I cannot say anything bow, what I will encourage you to do is to go to the office,” Fr. Varfee said.

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