Public education on public education: teachers’ salaries (2014-2022) – (…)
Public education on public education: teachers’ salaries (2014-2022) – facts and distortions
By Dr. David Sengeh, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Sierra Leone
My greatest pleasure and challenge as a public servant has been how to engage people in governance decision-making.
Last week, I asked a hypothetical question on the air. If you were a minister and you had an extra $80,000 a year to invest in the education sector, what would you do? Would you recruit 11,000 grade 5 teachers or would you currently increase the salaries of those on the payroll by 30%? Or how could you do both?
I didn’t provide an answer, but I was misinterpreted by people who thrive on misinformation. By the way, one of my essays at Harvard University that I still was in freshman year, I was asked to answer the hypothetical question of what I would do with $1 million. And it’s a question people are asking like in this excellent report from the Center for Global Development (https://www.cgdev.org/blog/how-much-should-governments-spend-teachers). These are not questions asked only in Sierra Leone.
Anyway, back to the data on teachers’ salaries – between 2014 and 2022 our government has given twice increases to teachers’ salaries and, compared to a previous benchmark, great progress, including for teachers. unqualified 1st grade teachers. In April alone, we upgraded over 1,000 additional teachers by completing their reassessments. We will add an additional 1,200 teachers to the payroll in September, bringing it to around 13,000 replaced and newly added teachers since 2018. We have provided over 300 million Leones to teachers through the Best Teacher Awards.
We have re-launched the trade group negotiation agreement meetings. Want to know some of the things we as employers are considering in the 15-chapter document? Parental leave – no, not maternity leave… but holistic parental leave. The impact of this is huge for families and something other countries don’t realize.
The point is, when people are determined to misrepresent you, they won’t do what you say or do. They wish they could shut you up. But you can’t silence facts and progress. So they call you arrogant, disrespectful, indifferent… and abuse your parents and threaten your family. As a youngster, I went through all of this this week…why? Because I speak up, share information and engage the audience. Because I believe governance and leadership should be inclusive and participatory.
These are among the most difficult times we face as the elections approach. I see other parties posting pay systems that they can’t even break down beyond the first tier. What have these holidays planned for your children? Delete FQSE? And do what?
And for the record:
Yes, we understand that teachers have concerns.
Yes, we are in conversation with disgruntled teachers, as we always have.
Yes, we are negotiating with the SLTU.
Yes, we are aware of the issues between some teachers and SLTU.
Yes, we have improved the conditions for teachers.
Yes, we use data and evidence to plan.
Yes, we constantly engage the public.
Yes, the opposition politicians play with the feelings of the people.
All of these things are true and yes, we expect our teachers and our children to be in school.
Finally, regardless of my true feelings and explanation, some people have twisted me to irritate people. If anyone is irritated by what they think I said was disrespectful, I’m sorry. For anyone who wants to silence me, I’m sorry, I won’t and I can’t be silenced. We owe it to the people to give him the truth. I’m sorry, I’m not a politician who can lie to the people. Our approach to governance is to engage citizens. Nothing I ever said was done.
As I have said over and over, my name is Ticha Lahai. No amount of misinformation can tarnish our excellent relationships with teachers.
Finally, I kindly urge all parents to send their children to school. I thank all the amazing teachers who went to school even with these uncertainties. And I invite those who have been home, whether now or before, to go to class. You do it for your children, not me, not President Bio. Don’t follow the haters, many of whom live abroad and work three jobs to make ends meet. They want to hurt our country so don’t let them.