A Primary Class in Sierra Leone
Teachers in Sierra Leone have had their pay rise blocked by the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Teachers can earn as little as $50 a month in Sierra Leone - nowhere near enough for survival - leave alone looking after a family - yet the IMF intervened last summer to prevent the government from paying a promised 40% - 50% pay rise.
spoke to Davidson A. Kuyateh, the General Secretary of the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU). "The conditions in public schools are so bad" he told me, "that parents who can afford it are opting for private schools. Class sizes are anything from 50 to 120, in rural areas the buildings are in poor condition - there is often no drinking water nor any running water at all. One of our other big problems is that even the public schools are not run by the government but by agencies - particularly catholic and muslim organisations who often recruit people to teach with no qualifications - some have only completed a primary school education."
Mr Kuyateh told us that the money sent by international donors is rarely spent on teachers. A large amount of the funds go on employing foreign consultants and project managers who are paid a vast amount more than teachers. Meanwhile the potential wealth of Sierra Leone - its fertile agricultural land and its mineral wealth like bauxite, iron ore and gold are being exploited by multinational corporations with scarcely any benefit to the people whose country this is.
I asked Mr Kayuteh what would improve the situation for education in Sierra Leone most - he said that three things were important, " Ending the process whereby private agencies recruit unqualified teachers, paying teachers properly and offering them professional development training."
"The SLTU is talking to the government about our promised pay rise - if all else fails, strike action will be the only alternative," said Mr Kayuteh.