Solomon Islands Schools Affected By Teacher Strike
By Ednal R. Palmer
HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 28, 2013) – Students throughout the Solomon Islands are again robbed of their rights to education as classroom doors are kept closed today.
The 2013 academic year is scheduled to start today, but teachers are resolute with their decision not to attend classes.
Thedecision to stage a nationwide strike was announced last Friday after the Government failed to respond to their demands effectively.
Only a few privately-run schools have opened their doors for classes to resume.
Concerned parent Joseph Hatugere said it is a pity parent prepared to pay up large sums of money as school fees and portion of the academic year is wasted.
"It is not only robbing students of their rights to education but also robbing parents of their hard earn money," Mr. Hatugere said.
He said most parents sympathized with teachers and refuse to lay the blame on them.
"It is not an easy task that teachers do every day. But as was evident, they are note well paid and their remuneration conditions not improved for far too long.
"Why should we expect quality education when people to execute the task were not properly compensated for the job they do?"
He said quality education which is in the Government’s policy cannot come from proper facilities and or fee- free education.
"Its foundation lies on the shoulder of teachers and starts right in homes and inside classrooms."
Mr. Hatugere therefore said it is only right that the Government listen, act positively and make it prompt.
[PIR editor's note: TheTrade Dispute Panel in the Solomons has since warned all teachers to call off the strike and resume teaching, saying failure to comply would result in prosecution for breaching the laws of the Solomon Islands. The Panel claims, according to the TDP Act, teachers are restricted from carrying out any strikes. SINTA president Samson Faisi says the government is using the Panel to protect itself and "cover up their own failures."]
Teachers in Honiara are expected to stage a sit-in protest at the Solomon Islands Public Employees Union (SIPEU) ground near the High Court and the Prime Minister’s office in Honiara.
Last February, cabinet approved and endorsed the payment of teachers re-leveling exercise, but has failed to allocate money for this.
Solomon Islands Teachers Association (SINTA) general secretary Johnley Hatimoana last week said teachers should not have any conscience of guilt over their decision to go on strike.
"We are not guilty of anything. It’s the government that is guilty of failing to fulfill its promise to teachers," Mr. Hatimoana said.
The Government last Friday amidst the announcement of a nation-wide strike by SINTA said it had taken steps to avert the nation-wide strike and will refer the dispute to the Trade Dispute Panel.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said that the Attorney General was preparing a referral to the TDP and urges all teachers to return to work.
SINTA has demanded the Government to implement the Teachers’ Scheme of Service as per 2012 Teachers’ Handbook in terms of re-leveling of entry points of teachers.
However SINTA advised that the re-leveling has to be addressed along with the arrears for 2012 before February 7, 2013.Solomon Star
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