The Director of Education of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Schools System, Madam Theresa D. Sheriff, has appealed to the Government of Liberia to provide them subsidies to enable them pay the salary arrears to their teachers.
Addressing the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) press briefing on Ebola Updates on Wednesday, February 18, Madam Sheriff said their annual budgetary appropriation for the payment of teachers’ salaries dried out in August, 2014 at the height of the Ebola epidemic.
Madam Sheriff said the SDA operates 24 schools and one university, with a total enrollment of 7,428 including 9 high schools and 3 junior high schools across the country.
She stated that none of their elementary schools in Monrovia has as yet received Ebola materials, adding that to date only 40% of their schools have received Ebola materials from the Ministry of Education.
Madam Dweh Sheriff said the DA educational institutions run on a 12-month annual budget and that their teachers are paid on a permanent basis rather than contractual. “But the budget for the payment of teachers dried out in August last year at the height of the Ebola period,” she said.
“We are facing the challenge of paying our teachers’ salary from August to now. We have appealed to the Ministry of Education to help us pay our teachers’ salaries because without teachers there will be no school,” she said.
According to Madam Sheriff, their teachers at the Konola Academy threatened to boycott classes when schools reopen, so they have had to tell them to exercise restraint.
“The budget for last school year ended in August last year so we have been talking to the teachers while crying to the Ministry of Education for help, and have also even taken a bank loan to appease them,” she said.
Madam Sheriff noted that all along they have been operating their schools without little help from government, so they are now asking government to help them with subsidies this year although they have been receiving assistance government is saying that there is no money for them.
“I don’t know how we will end but as I speak we may not be able to reopen Konola Academy this February because we owe the teachers 5 months salary arrears,” she said.
About their Ebola preventive preparations, Madam Sheriff reiterated that they are soliciting for more buckets and thermometers from the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), because they have asked principals in their schools to use thermometers and to put buckets in every classroom.
“We have conducted several workshops and set up Ebola response teams at our schools and set up health teams among the students,” she said.
Madam Sheriff digressed a little by urging educational authorities in the country to work together in bringing quality education. “You cannot be in something that even the President can classify as being in a mess. We need to do something about that,” she said.
She alluded to the urgency for government’s support, noting that every day more girls not going to schools are getting pregnant and the young boys nowadays are distracted by gambling games such as Winners and Dox. “We plan holding PTA meetings to advise parents to observe their children,” she concluded.