The Ministry of Education and the Civil Service Agency are in total disagreement over the retirement of 2,402 public school teachers across the country without replacement, which is negatively impacting the educational system.
Appearing before the Liberian Senate Tuesday, the Minister of Education Prof. D. AnsuSonii and the Director of the Civil Service Agency James Thompson could not agreed how the retirement was carried out.
The Ministry of Education told the Senate it is not in the know of the retirement and that the Civil Service Agency is the government entity that is responsible to retire employees.
But the Civil Service director Thompson countered that when they generated the retirement data for public school teachers, it was shared with the Ministry of Education for its input before executing the process.
On the other hand, Education Minister Sonii told senators the CSA sent the list of teachers after they had been retired, and not for input. “The names that came to us are those people that are already being retired by the CSA”, the Minister said.
Professor Sonii disclosed the retirement was carried out under a US$11m program supported by donors in which teachers were asked to sit a written test.
He said teachers who scored below 20 percent were dropped and encouraged to go back to school, get trained and reapply, adding, this process started under the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and the current administration met it there.
But Montserrado County Senator Saah H. Joseph of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change said not every decision made by the former Sirleaf administration should be embraced by the CDC-led government.
Senator Joseph noted that the ministry should had used some of the US$11 million to retrain those teachers rather retiring them.
The Senator, who chairs the Senate Committee on Executive, has been upset about the dismissal of classroom teachers under a donor program, saying that donors don’t control Liberia.
According to him, when donors come to help Liberia in the Education sector, the Minister of Education should tell them to work with Liberia’s program than to take teachers out of the classrooms purely based on donors’ criteria.
“This Liberian Senate will not sit and allow those teachers leave the classroom; we have to stand for our teachers; they are citizens of this country. Those teachers who have been serving all of those years, what will become of them when they leave the classroom? How does the Ministry expect them to survive?” Sen. Joseph frowned.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education and the Civil Service Agency have over the time been working together to get about 671 of the 2,402 retired teachers back into the classroom.
Senators in agreement said those 671 teachers should be deployed in all 15 counties equally to keep students in school.
Making a motion, Gbarpolu County Senator Daniel Nathaan said ministers from the Ministry of Education should remain under oath and return to plenary of the Liberian Senate in one week with full information on implementation of the replacement of the 671 teachers.
By Ethel A. Tweh–Editing by Jonathan Browne