Teachers, Please Come Back, Don’t Go To The Streets – Secondary Education Minister

Ministers at the press briefing

Ministers at the press briefing

By Godfred Sackmu

The Minister of Secondary Education, Prof. Pauline Nalova Lyonga, has called on striking teachers to go back into their classrooms and effectively resume duty. She made the call during a press briefing on February 10, 2022, in Yaounde.

The press conference, which centred on the strike action of some teachers, which has halted teaching in several schools, brought together five Ministers: Communication Minister, René Emmanuel Sadi; Secondary Education Minister, Prof. Pauline Nalova Lyonga; Basic Education Minister, Prof. Laurent Serge Etoundi Ngoa; Public Service and Administrative Reform Minister, Joseph Lé; and Finance Minister, Louis Paul Motaze.

 “On 21 February 2022, some teachers and teacher unions launched a strike action characterised in particular by the cessation of teaching, as well as the organisation of public demonstrations in schools and in a few public places,” René Emmanuel Sadi said.

Speaking during the press briefing, the Communication Minister disclosed that the debt owed to teachers amounts to FCFA 181 Billion, as a result of salary arrears, advancement and amongst others.

“This teachers’ strike action included a number of demands, the main ones being the following: the immediate payment of the debt owed to teachers; the revision, improvement of the special status of teachers as well as its harmonisation with teachers’ aspirations; the automatic adjustment of teachers’ salaries to the fluctuations of our economy; the increase of the base salary of teachers to FCFA 280,000 for category A2 and FCFA 250,000 francs for category A1; the increase of the housing allowance to FCFA 100,000 for A2 staff and FCFA 75,000 for A1 staff; the increase of the proficiency bonus to FCFA 30000; the increase of the research premium to FCFA 50,000; the introduction of a water and electricity premium of FCFA 10,000 for water utilities and FCFA 30,000 for electricity utilities; the automation of advancement; the introduction of a transport allowance for teachers in rural areas; the effective introduction of the monthly grant for student’s three years; the immediate abolition of the 2/3 system and the full payment of wages from then on; the total payment of 2/3 and 1/3 salary arrears without levying insecure and particularly difficult areas to the tune of FCFA 50,000; the introduction of a risk premium for teachers assigned to progression within the Ministry of Secondary Education; the automation of a refresher training cycle for teachers every three years; the automation of payments due for advancement, and finally, the improvement of teaching and didactic tools within training schools,” Sadi said.

Menawhile, the Minister of Finance, Louis Paul Motaze, said, “At the level of my ministry, we are going to apply what has been discussed here, such that we meet the financial demands of the teachers. Concerning where we are to get the money, we will either increase income or eliminate expenses”.

The Minister of Secondary Education acknowledged that the teachers have a just reason to strike, so she used the occasion to call on them to return into classrooms.

“The teachers have a just reason, and we want to tell them that we are following them. Measures are being put in place to solve the problem. So, I beg on my teachers to come back, don’t go to the streets. There is no need going to the street, because the Head of State has heard their cry,” she said.

As a remedial measure to some of the problems raised, she said the treatment of files will go digital.

“We cannot use methods of 18th century in the 21st century. It will not work. I have over 155559 decisions to sign. Things need to be digitalised, so as to avoid corruption. This is a new era, and teachers have to be satisfied. There is need for digitalisation,” she added.

As to what concerns the primary sector of education, Prof. Laurent Serge Etoundi Ngoa said, “We do not have documents that are pending in our ministry. Every week, I endeavour to know the State of advancement. I want to assure teachers that the President of the Republic has listened to their demands. We will make efforts such that there should not be any mistake at our level. What we have discussed here we believe will be permanent.”

At the level of the Ministry of Public Service and Administrative Reform, Joseph Lé said, “The Head of State has instructed me to: systematise the compiling of integration files for teachers before the end of their training, by both the interested parties and the institutions to which they are affiliated;  ensure in connection with the competent State Universities, the systematic submission in the regional delegations or in the central services of MINFOPRA, as the case may be, of the files of the successful candidates of the Higher Teacher Training Colleges and the Higher Technical Teacher Training Colleges; to immediately process the integration files already recorded at MINFOPRA and comprehensively take stock of the integration files pending at the Ministry of Secondary Education and the Ministry of Basic Education; to proceed from now on, in connection with the Ministry of Higher Education, to the organisation of the entrance examinations to the Higher Teacher Training Colleges and the Higher Technical Teacher Training Colleges, in accordance with the regulations in force; and finally, to implement all measures that could help dematerialise and streamline procedures for processing files related to the integration of teachers into the public service.”

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