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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

$4.6 Million Needed To Avert Solomons Teacher Strike
Start of school year delayed by week due to dispute

By Daniel Namosuia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 19, 2013) – The Government will need more than $34 million (US$4.6 million) teachers’ re-levelling exercise and backdated payments.

This latest figure reportedly put the government on the wire as it struggles to avert a nation-wide strike issued by teachers.

A $4.7 million (US$635,000) this paper reported yesterday as needed to meet the teachers’ re-levelling exercise was said to be only for an estimated quarterly payment.

Supervising Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education Aseri Yalangona yesterday said they are liaising with the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s office on the issue.

"This is to ensure the right information and calculations are done before we could submit a budget to cabinet for approval," Mr Yalangona said.

He added that due to the substantial number of teachers nationwide, his ministry needs to properly deal with this issue.

Asked why his ministry failed to include in its budget the cost of teachers’ re-levelling exercise, Mr Yalangona said he was not a member of the budget committee so will not comment on this.

But he said the important thing now is to establish exactly how much is needed to meet the teachers demand and present it to cabinet.

A government officer spoken to yesterday said it is unlikely that government will pay $34 million to the teachers at once.

"The only option is for the government to pay that in segments," the officer said.

SINTA (Solomon Islands National Teachers Association) president Samson Faisi said their strike threat still stand and that the government must pay teachers their dues in full.

This was the decision reached in a meeting attended by more than 500 teachers in Honiara yesterday.

"Whether the government has the money or not is not our problem.

"They need to find the money to pay us or else our decision to go on strike will come about," Mr Faisi said.

He said now that the Ministry of Education has decided to delay the start of the school year by a week, they will wait until Friday next week before making a final decision on the proposed strike.

Solomon Star
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