A primary school teacher in East New Britain province has called on the provincial education board and the teaching service commission to sort out the issues of unpaid teachers in the province.
Paul Mission, a teacher at the Rabagi Primary school in the Gazelle District says he has been teaching for four years with no hints of when his salary will be paid.
He has joined the call made by other teachers who are teaching without a regular income for years.
At Rabagi primary school in the Gazelle District, on the outskirts of Kokopo town, Paul Mission is preparing his classroom a few days ahead before the resumption of the 2020 academic year.
This will be the fourth school that he has been posted to.
In the last four years while moving from school to school, he wasn’t getting his regular salary.
And he says, he is not sure where the problem is that is causing his salary delay since 2016.
“Numerous times when I went to the education office, the staff used to tell me that they haven’t received any confirmation letter as yet from the teaching service commission that will indicate when I will be put on payroll. And they kept repeating that same advise every time I went to the education office to enquire about my pay.”
He says numerous attempts to get an answer from the provincial education office has not received any favourable response.
All he was told is to check his bank account every fortnight.
And that has been going on for the past four years.
”When I went down to the education office, the officer in charge of salary told me to keep checking my bank account as the pay may go in anytime. That was in 2018. So I checked every fortnight and still my pay didn’t go in.”
This year will be his fifth year of teaching after graduating from the Kabaleo Teachers College in 2015.
And he is not sure if his dues will ever be paid.
“This is my fifth year of teaching and I want the education office to do something about my pay so I can be put on payroll this year.”
Like Paul, there are many other teachers who are facing similar problems with their salaries.
Earlier this month we spoke to two female teachers, Grace Longkarea and Camelynne Tati from two remote primary schools in Pomio District who have been teaching without pay for almost 7 years.
Also, Jerry Katoa, a senior teacher at the OLSH secondary school in Kokopo is facing the same problem. It has been difficult convincing the provincial education board to put him back on payroll.
As teachers gear up to begin the 2020 academic year, many like Paul are still searching for answers to their unpaid salaries.
And they are uncertain if they will be getting paid at all this year, something that they are entitled to.
By Edwin Fidelis, National EMTV News, Kokopo