Teachers frustrated with leave entitlement process

Teachers from the nine districts of Morobe Province have been standing in line since yesterday to get their leave fares.

Prior to that, they have been traveling back and forth since last week to check on the status of their entitlements.

Teachers from as far as the remote districts of Menyamya, Finschhafen and Nawaeb have been constantly checking up on their leave entitlements. And with just a few days before Christmas, they have been forced to brave the heat to collect their fares.

The deputy head teacher of Huonville Primary School in Lae, Salome Sangi, is hoping to be in East Sepik by Christmas but her hope has dwindled as the day progresses.

Sangi, who has been teaching for over 3 decades, said it had been easier in the past when their entitlements were deposited into their accounts. Moreover, they were divided into their respective regions and they would get paid by the last week of the term. This approach, however, has changed and the teachers started lining up in front of the Morobe provincial education office on Tuesday, December 22nd, to get their entitlements.

They lined up in the morning and left for home after 5pm.

“In the past they would usually tell us, ‘Ok today is for the Southern region, and the next day is New Guinea Islands and so forth’,” she said. “It was ok in that manner. But now, everybody comes at one time and yesterday, some of the teachers almost fainted.

“For us East Sepik, they could see that some of us are old teachers so they handpicked us and we went to the counter to pick up ours but unfortunately, none of the officers could serve a teacher like me and my other sister and we were turned back. Now she’s standing in line again while I already have a sore knee and cannot stand in line anymore.”

Sangi pointed out that two weeks have gone and they have four more weeks before the 2021 academic calendar resumes.

“The strategy they’re using to give out confirmation letters is very, very slow,” she stated. “I don’t know whether we’re going home or not. Not to mention, when we come back late, they don’t treat us well. Some of us, they put us into pools and we lose our positions in the following year.”

Another frustrated teacher was Esika Den from Kabwum Primary School, who pointed out that this was a longstanding issue that prevents teachers from spending time with their families back home.

Den appealed to the provincial education authority to pay the teachers in advance considering they already have their details in the database.

“They need to stop this,” he said. “Ol putim go insait lo system and pay into the account so we don’t need to line up here. Taim mipla pinis lo November, by the end of November teaching em pinis, mipla kam tasol kisim pei and we’re already in our villages. We shouldn’t be here.”

He outlined that though they receive their entitlements late, they are expected in school early the following year.

Den is one of the teachers from Morobe’s remote areas who had to spend a couple of weeks with his relatives in Lae to access his entitlements.

“It’s not that easy going back and forth. I’m living with my relatives at Bumayong and it costs me K4 every day to come here; K2 to come here and K2 to go back.”

The teachers are hoping for better solutions to resolve this end-of-the-year problem.

Meantime, Morobe’s provincial education advisor, Keith Tangui, was not available for comment.

Carmella Gware