- Title: Liberia: Students, police clash over unpaid teachers' salaries
- Date: 16th October 2019
- Summary: MONROVIA, LIBERIA (OCTOBER 15, 2019) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** RIOT POLICE IN FRONT OF SCHOOL STUDENTS PROTESTING AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT IN SUPPORT OF TEACHERS WHO ARE STRIKING OVER NON PAYMENT OF THEIR SALARIES FOR THREE MONTHS, IN FRONT OF PRESIDENT'S OFFICE STUDENTS SHOUTING 'NO BRIBERY' STUDENTS SHOUTING AND SECURITY FORCES BLOCKING THEM POLICE IN FRONT OF STUDENTS DURING PROTEST SECURITY FROM MCSS SCHOOL AND POLICE PUSHING A STUDENT AWAY STUDENT WHO GOT HIT BY A STONE ON THE HEAD ARGUING WITH SECURITY (SOUNDBITE) (English/Kreyol) ROBERT CLARK, STUDENT OF MONROVIA CONSOLIDATED SCHOOLS SYSTEM (MCSS), SAYING: "The teachers are not getting paid and that is why we are not taking our test. This was supposed to be our test week. Yesterday they said they were sending payment message, so that today we can take test (exams). We go today and the teachers said no pay, that's how we go on the streets and demonstrate for our teachersâ€™ right. The people are not slave. Somebody cannot be working without pay. They can't be slave" STUDENTS RUNNING AS POLICE FIRE TEAR GAS FURTHER AWAY PEOPLE RUNNING, TEAR GAS SMOKE BEHIND STUDENTS RUNNING STUDENTS CARRYING A STUDENT AND TRYING TO BREAK THROUGH RIOT POLICE STOPPING THEM, POLICE WITH BATONS RUNNING AFTER THE STUDENTS STUDENT WHO FAINTED ON THE GROUND BEING CARRYING TO VEHICLE STUDENTS THROWING STONES AT A PRIVATE SCHOOL WHERE TEACHERS ARE TEACHING AND RUNNING STUDENTS THROWING STONES AT THE SCHOOL INTERIOR PRIVATE SDA SCHOOL YARD STUDENTS FROM SDA SCHOOL COMING OUT AFTER POLICE FIRED TEAR GAS IN THE SCHOOL WHICH WAS ATTACKED BY PROTESTING STUDENTS (SOUNDBITE) (English) MAC ARTHUR DOTEN, TEACHER, SDA HIGH SCHOOL, SAYING: "They came and saw a bunch of students in classes. They are seeing (through) windows. Those untrained police officers came and started shooting teargas. It affected the students and about six students has fainted, and laying in the hospital. Thatâ€™s what you are bringing back into this country." STUDENTS AROUND A VEHICLE OUTSIDE THE HOSPITAL CARRYING A STUDENT IN SDA COOPER HOSPITAL SIGN ABOVE ENTRANCE WOMAN WHO WAS AFFECTED BY THE TEAR GAS LYING ON THE FLOOR AND STUDENT ON A HOSPITAL BED WHO FAINTED FROM THE TEAR GAS ANOTHER STUDENT AFFECTED BY THE TEAR GAS ON THE FLOOR STUDENT ON HOSPITAL BED WITH HIS MOTHER FAINTED STUDENT BEING BROUGHT IN (SOUNDBITE) (Kreyol) TOMITY TAAR, MCSS STUDENT AND ACTING LEADER, SAYING: "Yesterday we should have taken the test, Monday, Tuesday, no way. The superintendent was in his office sitting and he did not come to us. The principal promise us today we will take test, but no test today. So today we felt that the superintendent has no authority of what is unfolding. And today we felt that the ministry of education has no authority to what is unfolding, so we deem it necessary by going peacefully to the president. We went there and we were peaceful. But when the president was coming, let us be clear, during Madam Sirleaf's time, she will come and talk to the protesters, but they order for students to be flogged. Now all student that were beaten." STONES ON THE GROUND IN FRONT OF THE PRESIDENT'S OFFICE MONROVIA, LIBERIA (OCTOBER 16, 2019) (REUTERS) MEETING BETWEEN TEACHERS AND MINISTERS EDUCATION MINISTER ANSU SONII (IN THE CENTRE) AT THE MEETING VETO V. GARWAY PRESIDENT MONROVIA CONSOLIDATED SCHOOLS SYSTEM (MCSS) TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION ADDRESSING THE MEETING (SOUNDBITE) (English) VETO V. GARWAY, PRESIDENT OF MONROVIA CONSOLIDATED SCHOOLS SYSTEM (MCSS) TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION, SAYING: "July there was no pay. We came here, we wanted to strike but our administrator intervened. He said look, I will talk with the right authorities to seek what they can do. Since then we have been working with the HRO (Human Resource Officer), we have been working with the superintendent, we have even engaged authorities at the finance ministry. But to no avail. We had no other option. We were just tired in the wake of schools opening, teachers were not taking pay but they were teaching others. Teachers were living some distance but they never had money to pay their way. What could we do after we made so many interventions? No way. So the best thing was to just walk out of the class and stay away" MEETING OF TEACHERS AND MINISTERS (SOUNDBITE) (English) VETO V. GARWAY PRESIDENT MONROVIA CONSOLIDATED SCHOOLS SYSTEM (MCSS) TEACHERS' ASSOCIATION SAYING: "We will compromise on one (thing) which has to do with 65% US (dollars) 35 % LD (Liberian Dollar). For now we were being paid in LD, we were marginalised. Though other people were taking United States dollars but teachers in the Republic of Liberia did not. But what we will not drop: our demand for our two months, our insurance, our TA cheques, we are not dropping" STUDENTS OUTSIDE THE TUBMAN HIGH SCHOOL GATE WHERE MEETING WAS HELD
- Embargoed: 30th October 2019 15:28
- Keywords: public school teachers teachers walkout students protest George Weah teachers' strike
- Location: MONROVIA, LIBERIA
- City: MONROVIA, LIBERIA
- Country: Liberia
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA001B1CKFO7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Students from Monrovia's public schools took to the streets on Tuesday (October 15) to protest against the government's failure to pay teachers' salaries since July.
The teachers are on a partial strike demanding full payment for the last two months saying they only got 20% of their Liberian Dollar salaries for the month of August.
Some teachers, not all, get part of their pay in US dollars.
The Association said teachers would not return to work until they received the entirety of their salaries in both currencies.
As a result students from the public education system have been unable to sit their exams this week.
The MCSS (Monrovia Consolidated School System) Teachers' Association on October 11 said they would take "Go-Slow action" from Monday and called on all teachers to "lay down their chalk" until the government pay their August and September salaries and stop deducting their insurance premium which they accuse the ministry of education of not disbursing to the insurers.
The government said it had started paying the teachers before the protest.
A government statement on Tuesday said The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning had paid the Liberian Dollar portion of the September salaries. "Out of the 1,223 MCSS's teachers, 995 teachers with only Liberian Dollars Accounts have been paid their total salaries or 100 percent for the month of September in Liberian Dollars" the statement said adding the banks had been credited.
It made no mention of the August salaries.
Students had been told that the teachers would be back in school by Tuesday after the government told them their pay was on the way. When they failed to show, they descended into the streets to demonstrate.
"Yesterday they said they were sending payment message, so that today we can take test (exams). We go today and the teachers said no pay, that's how we go on the streets and demonstrate for our teachersâ€™ right. The people are not slave. Somebody cannot be working without pay," said one student Robert Clark.
The protest degenerated quickly with some students throwing stones at private colleges and baton-wielding riot police trying to disperse them.
A teacher at the private SDA high school said police fired teargas straight into a room where children were sitting during class.
A dozen school children were taken to hospital where the doctors said two of them were in critical condition and that most of them were reacting badly to the teargas.
On Wednesday (October 16) the teachers association held a meeting with the ministers of education and of finance in Monrovia's Tubman school.
The President of the MCSS, Veto Garway, said would not compromise on their demands for salary payments, insurance payments and cheques for Teacher Assistance (TA).
Liberia's economy was hit hard by a 2014-16 Ebola outbreak that killed thousands, low prices for its chief exports, iron ore and rubber, and declining foreign aid.
The International Monetary Fund in March revised down Liberia's economic growth forecast for 2019 to 0.4% from 4.7%. Inflation peaked at 28.5% in December, pushing up the price of everyday items.
Many believed President George Weah, who grew up in a Monrovia slum before becoming a celebrated striker in some of Europe's biggest football teams, would bring a new dawn. Instead, he faces the same criticisms of corruption that dogged his predecessor Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Last month medical workers were also on strike protesting against low wages, delayed payments and poor working conditions.
(Production: Derrick Snyder, Yvonne Bell)
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