Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Minkailu Bah, has disclosed that over 4,000 teachers were not paid by the government for the month of August even though some 30,000 of them received theirs.
He made this disclosure last Thursday at a press conference held at the conference hall of the ministry in New England Ville, Freetown.
Dr. Bah explained that the Ministry of Finance did not pay the teachers because they refused to submit details of their personal bank accounts where their salaries could be paid.
“The reality is that in February this year, the government, through the Ministry of Education, said that all teachers should open an account. Previously, the salaries were sent into their school accounts and it was their principals that paid them on the table. We then realised that we were having problems with that because some schools were saying they do not have enough teachers but when we looked at their paying vouchers they were filled with teachers,” he disclosed.
He claimed that some names on the payroll are teachers that have left the schools or are dead, but some principals have not been reporting that to the Ministry of Education.
The Education Minister recalled that because of those problems teachers were asked to open bank accounts, adding that those in district headquarter towns where there are banks were given from February to July to do so, adding that they failed to adhere, thus only those that complied have received their salaries.
“It will interest you to know that most of the teachers who refused to open bank accounts are in the Western Area where we have proliferation of banks. The 2,460 teachers that were not paid in July are in the Western Area. The question you ask is why they are refusing to open an account,” he quizzed.
He disclosed that some 35,800 teachers have been approved by the government and that over 30,000 of them have been paid.
He alleged that salaries of teachers that have left the school go into the personal account of principals, who claimed they paid them into the Consolidated Fund.
“If those teachers have left and you have unapproved teachers teaching in the school and you are not reporting for them to be replaced it makes no sense. In fact, when they receive the money, they pay those unapproved teachers little over 100,000 Leones, which is very bad,” he said.
He said teachers who have refused to open personal bank accounts are those who no longer teach, yet their salaries have been running since they left. He cited Ansarul Secondary School at Guard Street in Freetown, where according to him, seven teachers have left the school since 2007 but the principal continued to receive their salaries.
“Instead of the principal reporting this matter to the Ministry of Education, he secretly called the teachers and gave them letters to go and open their bank accounts so that their salaries would have been paid there. It was the Community Teachers Association (C.T.A) members that reported this to us,” he disclosed.
He told pressmen he had reported the matter, among other abnormalities in the school system, to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), and that the principal is being investigated.
He cited another case was at the Ahmadiyya Secondary School in Makeni where six teachers have left the school and others died since 2009, but the principal continues to receive their salaries, adding that he brought other people who sign on behalf of those that have left and died.
“At Mile 91, also, there was a teacher called Hassan Sesay Koroma who left the school and the head teacher did not report to us to replace him. Instead he brought in one Hassan Fornah to answer to the above name and because he has a Teachers’ Certificate (TC) should have been receiving over 700, 000 Leones but the headteacher was paying him 298,000 Leones,” he said. He added that Hassan Fornah taught in the school for four years before he got a job at ADDAX.
He said when Mr. Fornah left, the head teacher brought in Abdul Mansaray, who was answering to the name Hassan Sesay Koroma, noting that when Fornah was sacked at ADDAX, he returned to the school, only for the head teacher to inform him that he had replaced his name with one Abdul Mansaray.
Dr. Bah disclosed that Mr. Fornah came to him and reported the matter, and he informed the Anti-Corruption Commission about the incident.
Meanwhile, he boasted teachers have been promptly paid since he was appointed minister. “Since I took office in 2007, we have not delayed the payment of teachers for a single month. I ensure that teachers are paid within the month and there are times when teachers are paid before ministers and civil servants. This is because we know the important role they are playing in our schools,” he said.