The National, Thursday, May 26th 2011
By YVONNE HAIP
MORE than 100 teachers in Western Highlands abandoned classes yesterday in frustration at the highlands regional Teaching Service Commission office in Mt Hagen.
They walked off their jobs after vocal leader of the informal Teachers Rights Movement group, Joshua Kono, was served a suspension notice for organising strikes and teachers’ forums in the province.
The notice was served by the commission last week as a result of organised forums and strikes that Kono and the Teachers Rights Movement was supposed to have called.
The suspension is because the proper channels for teachers to follow to air grievances, through the PNG Teachers Association, had not been followed.
The group has been acting as the voice of teachers and advocated on their rights and responsibilities.
It presented a petition on behalf of teachers based on the need for the outcomes-based education policy to be refined, as well as implementer’s reforms to be in place.
The frustrated teachers fronted up at the regional commission office demanding answers on why Kono had not been reinstated although the seven-day suspension had expired.
A commission representative told the teachers that Kono had been suspended because he had overridden existing procedures.
While airing their complaints, the teachers claimed they had no PNGTA representative as there were two factions tussling over the association presidency.
They claimed they had not voted for their provincial PNGTA presidents because the ballot boxes had been hijacked.
Mt Hagen Secondary School principal John Mamp called on the teachers to vote a PNGTA representative to voice their concerns.
“Who is the PNGTA provincial president? Get your house into order, follow the right procedures and professionally present the case,” he said.
He challenged the teachers, who were vocal about pay increases, to concentrate on their jobs as they had a choice to enter other professions but they had chosen to be teachers and if they were not happy, “the door was open to leave”.
Kono is likely to be reinstated because the teachers threatened a mass resignation and withdrawal from the PNGTA.