The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) is taking steps to address issues on teacher housing and travel being raised recently by the Solomon Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA).
The Executive of SINTA has been informed of the actions MEHRD has already taken which SINTA has also agreed to the process.
The understanding was further iterated by Dr Franco Rodie, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development at a workshop on the 10th and 11th March, 2015 between MEHRD and Education Authorities that operate schools in Honiara.
MEHRD has begun a mapping exercise particularly for Honiara based schools to collect information about the teacher accommodation circumstances and allowance payments.
A similar investigation will begin on the end of year travel allowance soon after the accommodation and allowance payments have been addressed. Again, the exercise will start with Honiara based schools.
The mapping exercise will eventually spread throughout the country. MEHRD is also with the understanding that many Education Authorities cannot afford to pay the teachers’ entitlements and allowances.
The mapping exercise is a complicated exercise but it is one MEHRD is determined to undertake to investigate the issues thoroughly as it is clear that some teachers are not getting what they should receive and MEHRD will work with Education Authorities to ensure the matter is sorted out.
Recent improvements MEHRD has made to its database are helping but some Education Authority records on the status of teacher accommodation are a problem that needs to be overcome.
The Teaching Scheme of Service confirms that it is the responsibility of Education Authorities to pay any travel and accommodation allowances. However, it is understood that in the past MEHRD has provided a subsidy for teacher travel to top up shortfalls in Education Authority funding.
MEHRD is currently working with few Education Authorities who have failed in the past years to pay their teachers’ accommodation or provide accommodation and end of year travel costs to their teachers so that the Education Authorities can meet their teachers’ accommodation and travel expenses – just like other Education Authorities who have continued to meet their obligations.
The Teaching Services Handbook is due for review in July ready for implementation in 2016. It is expected that any policy changes will also be considered as part of this review.