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School system snafu leaves scores stranded

By Jennifer Kakai HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 14, 2010) – In Solomon Islands, teachers all over the country flooded in to the teaching service division (TSD) office yesterday.

This was after the year’s school calendar ended yet they did not receive their travelling allowances.

Gabriel Riotaru, one among the many teachers who waited impatiently for their allowances said that they should be now at their home provinces for holiday but were left stranded due to their travelling allowances not being paid.

He said officers who are working on the travelling allowances should prepare them long before the school calendars close.

Speaking to the Solomon Star yesterday acting Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Timothy Ngele said that Government had already paid what it was supposed to pay to all education authorities through out the country.

He said that the half of the travelling allowances for teachers is to be paid by the Government and the other half by all the education authorities which includes all the provincial authorities, Honiara City Council and all private school authorities.

"Government already injected in its share of SB$3.5 million [US$430,000] which was shared among all the education authorities."

Two teachers who were teaching in schools under the Honiara City Council said they were discouraged when they arrived at the Honiara City Council Education office and were told the authority would only meet one-way travel expenses.

Teachers were told that they would have to meet their return travelling expenses, which would be refunded on the basis that receipts must be presented to the Honiara City Education Authority.

Some teachers had said that they refused to take the money which was SB$400 [US$49], as they knew that the amount of money would not be able to meet their travelling expenses.

They said that the responsible school authority must consider this seriously as this kind of attitude towards teachers travelling allowances become a practice that happened every year.

Attempts by the Solomon Star to talk with the Honiara City Council chief education officer were unsuccessful.

However acting Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Education, Mr. Ngele said that only teachers who were travelling were entitled to the travel allowances.

He said that the money was given only to those teachers who applied for the travel allowances.

Meanwhile Mr. Riotarau said that responsible authorities must consider this seriously and put some action to it.

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