Vanuatu Teachers Plan Meeting To Discuss Grievances

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Education department purportedly misspending funds for salaries

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 11, 2012) – In Vanuatu, some 200 teachers from French and English Primary and Secondary schools throughout Port Vila and Efate are scheduled to meet tomorrow to address their grievances despite being told by the Teaching Service Commission and the Ministry and the Department of Education that their last meeting was illegal.

In a circular to all teachers in the capital and outside of the capital Port Vila, the organizers set out the agenda, the venue and for the teachers meeting tomorrow.

Scheduled for 2:30pm at the Catholic Church Hall in Port Vila tomorrow, the teachers will look at the problem issues they face that they have compiled to bring up at the meeting.

One of the important matters on the agenda is to for the teachers to elect a Task Force Committee that will be responsible for the coordination of the teachers’ future meetings.

Also high on the agenda is the issue of teacher’s salary scales which has been the core of the problem for the teachers in Vanuatu, according to one of the organizers.

The teachers will also address the issue of outstanding salaries and other teachers’ conditions.

The circular to the teachers which was emailed to Daily Post also include on the agenda for the meeting discussion on an approach with the Ministry and the Department of Education authorities.

Last week the teachers made several comments in relation to the reply by the Director of Education Services following their first meeting held at Lycee Lab.

The teachers claimed only because of their meeting at Lycee Lab, with subsequent media reporting, real problems have been exposed within the Department and the Ministry of Education.

On the issue of shortage of funds for teachers’ salaries, the teachers argued that the problem here is the Ministry and the Department of Education itself. They pointed out that one of the principle functions of the Ministry and the Department of Education is to make sure that teachers providing teaching services to the children in all schools in Vanuatu is to find and or always prepare the necessary budget to pay for teachers wages.

"There is no slavery here in Vanuatu for teachers to sacrifice their time for up to one or two years without being remunerated for. This is totally against the appropriate laws of the country. The issue of government short of funds to pay teachers is not teacher’s problem, but the government’s," argued the teachers.

The teachers blamed the government for unnecessary spending on too many vehicles, too much overseas and other travelling, and said the real problem in the Ministry and the Department of Education is budget expenditure– how the budget is used.

"Every employee in any given undertaking has the right for their normal wages or salary. But to state that teachers must sacrifice is not a right attitude because in today’s world every worker in whatever employment depend on their wages for their family’s livelihood.

"In relation to comments made by Mr. Obed on teachers’ performance and students results, this literally means that teachers should be paid in accordance with their performance and the student results which is totally wrong way of thinking," a statement from the teachers say.

The teachers even went further to question the ability of the Ministry and the Department of Education in recognizing the struggle and the challenges that the teachers and students are facing to achieve the goals in producing educated human resources for this country.

"The majority of schools throughout Vanuatu are faced with poor classroom conditions, lack of proper and quality facilities which means that the ministry and the department of education do not really mean what they say by ‘investing in education.

"We have the facts with us to show to the people of Vanuatu about our concerns of the conditions of the teachers, the classrooms, and many other schools poor state of conditions which is supposed to be the responsibility of the department and the ministry of education.

"As far as the legality of the meeting we held is concern and which was raised by Mr. Obed, we wish to state that if the teachers and the people of Vanuatu no longer have the right to meet and find solutions to problems then Vanuatu has just lost its Freedom of Speech.

"We ask Mr. Obed what happened to the 2006 GRT and where it is now?" the teachers said.

The teachers alleged that the Ministry and the Department do not have full nor complete statistics of how many teachers and students there are in the whole country.

The teachers ended by saying that the objective of the teachers is to produce future and quality human resources for the country but they too themselves deserve better conditions so as to provide good employment conditions and environment to meet the objectives expected by everyone and the nation.

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