MCSS Students, Police Clash – As Several Students Wounded in Solidary with Teachers

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The enclave of Central Monrovia through Jallah Town to 12th Street Sinkor was jammed with traffic amidst skirmishes between elements of the Liberia National Police and the student community of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) characterized by the teargas shooting by the state security forces and a reciprocal bombing of stone throwing by the MCSS students.

The skirmishes clogged traffic in central Monrovia and the Sinkor belt where much of the bloody standoff between the students and the riot police forces was concentrated; as the students reportedly set up road blocks in front of the office of the President of Liberia at the Foreign Ministry while the struggled to disburse the angry students by the use of teargas which was resisted with rub of green potato grains on the noses and eyes of the students.

Our reporter who saw some students using the elevated lands behind the University of Liberia main campus to escape the wrath of the police witnessed a struggle amongst the students to ensure that they were off the streets.

Some female students who explained to The ANALYST alleged that some of their student colleagues were brutalized and wounded by the police forces, noting that they wounded were rushed to hospitals which when asked, they could not name.

Other students met on the Jallah Town – Sinkor back road said the MCSS students from all the schools staged the protest because were in sympathy with their instructors who were boycotting classes from administering their first period test due to government’s delay to pay their salaries and other benefits.

The students reasoned that some of them have the WASSC and WAEC tests to sit for elementary, junior and secondary school, noting that they will be blamed when they performed poorly as a result of boycott of classed by the teachers when the school could ill-prepare them to meet the international academic challenge.

The therefore went all-out yesterday in solidarity with the teachers, saying that the MCSS Teacher’s Association has taken a position to stay out of class until their demands for two-month salary arrears and other incentives are met.

Our field reporters said   during the students’ protest, some of them were arrested. According to Education Minister Ansu Sonii, “Those students were not from MCSS, but from higher institutions; adding that three or four students that were found in the SD Cooper Hospital were not MCSS students.”

An official press release issued by the MCSSTA said the association met with the Faculty Representative Council and resolved that the government pay their August and September salaries arrears, remit money collected for their medical insurance to the SAAR Insurance Company to guarantee the health coverage for them, their families including their spouses and pay their 106 staffers for July amongst others.

The MCSSTA vowed that the association will no bow to government unless the demands are met. The official press release therefore announced the Go-Slow action by the teachers on Friday October 11, 2019.

Accordingly, the President of the MCSSTA, Mr. Mr. Veto Garway, told a group of reporters yesterday, Monday, in Monrovia that MCSSTA has been having series of meetings with the government of Liberia concerning these issues concerning salaries and, insurance and other benefits without any attention to address their situation.

Garway narrated that the government is deducting money from their salaries for insurance which they understand the government is not paying to the insurance company thereby rendering them and their families vulnerable.

Consequent to this, Mr. Garway said the teachers are not receiving treatment that they are entitled to at the health facilities identified to them, saying that the MCSS employees did not receive their salaries for July and August of this year, a situation which he said prompted the decision that the teachers will not go to class unless the government pays their salary arrears and other benefits due them.

The MCSSTA boss further added, “As long as government fail to meet up with our demands, the teachers of the MCSS will stay out of the classroom,” urging all teachers of the MCSS not to listen to anyone besides its authority and calling on all employees of the MCSS not to allow anybody to send any of them a text message or fool them that the issues of pay salaries and benefits are resolved when they have not received their pay or hear from the MCSSTA.

But the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) clarifies that the government has already paid the salaries of fifteen thousand (15,000) non-MCSS teachers for the month of August, and is now processing their September pay.

A oppress release issued on October 15, 2019 disclosed that currently, the Ministry said about two thousand (2000) non-MCSS teachers who have account issues are getting their August pay through arrangements agreed upon between MFDP and the Ministry of Education (MOE).

The MFDP meanwhile indicated that some nine hundred (900) MCSS teachers were paid fully for August yesterday, October 14, 2019. “These teachers received only Liberian dollars,” a press release issued by the ministry further clarified.

Besides, the MFDP release said about 200 MCSS teachers who are paid in both USD and Liberian Dollars have received their 20 percent Liberian Dollar portions, but the bank in which they have their accounts has not yet posted the 80 percent to their USD accounts.

Additionally, the Ministry of Finance and Development the public informed in the release that the September pay for all MCSS teachers, who are paid differently from the 17,000 public school teachers, has been sent to the bank and is expected to be credited to their accounts by close of this week.

The Ministry Finally announced that September checks for health and security sector workers have already been sent to commercial banks, informing the public that government is doing its best to pay teachers, health workers and all civil servants on time, the release concluded.

For its part, the Ministry of Education confirmed that it has begun disbursement of teachers’ salaries for the months of August and September, after students blocked some major streets of Monrovia demanding government to pay their teachers.

The Liberian Education Minister revealed that there was meeting held between the Ministry of Education and MCSS Teachers Association on Sunday, but noted that the meeting unfortunately failed.

Education Minister Ansu Sonii stated that the first marking period test should have started Monday, but did not start because the teachers were not happy that their salaries had not been paid for August and September.

Speaking on victims of the impasse at a news press conference yesterday, on Wednesday, Minister Sonii said “Those students were from the SDA School and Major Taylor Academy who got affected from teargas and taken to the SD Cooper Hospital were treated and discharged.

He disclosed that two other students were injured badly on the Capital Bypass, and that the Minister of Gender, Minister Tarr, was making follow up on them.

Minister Sonii asserted that if they are reported to be MCSS students, the Ministry of Education was going to take responsibility of them.  As for students he said that were at the police station, Deputy Education Minister Phil Dickson had gone there, assuring that they will be released to him to be turned over to their parents.”

Education Minister Sonii also said payments of salaries to teachers for August and September was already instructed by President George M. Weah, and that the actual disbursement had begun before the protest.

The Ministries of Health and the Education have been placed on the front burner as far as salary disbursement is concerned in keeping with an order from the president of Liberia. “For the month of August, all teachers in the Republic of Liberia and staffers who are Ministry of Education workers (about 17,000 in all) had been paid for August.

However, the likelihood exists that the banking complications in some places have given rise to some of them not receiving their money first, the minister deduced. He said the Ministries of Education and Finance and Development Planning are working out how those complications can be removed.

He further said the disbursement for MCSS teachers’ salaries have started already and it will become fully effective by today, and assured that by Thursday, most of them would have received pay

He disclosed that today the Ministry of Education, Information, Gender and other sectors that are part of our pillar in particular will be meeting with our teachers of MSCC at the William V. S. Tubman High School in Monrovia, a reason for which he said no student shall report to any of the 24 MCSS schools tomorrow.

He however appealed to teachers against the boycott decision, which according to him, is against ethics.  “You should never abandoned the students for your interest,” he said, disclosing that students have also appealed to the Ministry of Education and principals that because of the distraction yesterday the first marking period exam that was to be administered Thursday will now begin Monday October 21, 2019.

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