Admitting they are impeded by “a cash-flow situation”, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said he is in discussion with the Director of Finance to resume payments for ancillary and janitorial staff working with the various denominational school boards.
President of the Anjuman Sunnat ul Jamaat Association (ASJA) Yacoob Ali said they had received notice from the ministry of its decision to withdraw payment for ancillary and janitorial staff with effect from January. Ali has written to the permanent secretary asking that they rethink this decision. He said he is awaiting a response.
Ali said he is worried about the consequences this action would have on ASJA’s 13 schools which employs approximately 50 workers. These workers are charged with the responsibility of maintaining the premises. He said each employee receives a salary of between $3,000 to $4,000 per month.
Garcia said the various denominational boards receive assistance from government from which ancillary staff can be paid. Ali said they cannot afford this additional expenditure from their budget. He said if the ASJA board has to bear this cost, it would result in a reduction of staff and this could result in sanitary compromises.
“We want government to rethink that position. All the denominational schools will be affected,” Ali said. Garcia said while they cannot provide the money as regularly as they would like, he has had discussions with the Director of Finance and assured, “payments would be made shortly.”
The Presbyterian School Board of Education also appealed for government to release funds withheld since 2017. In a release, chairman Christian Dookhoo and general secretary Gary Samai said it could not guarantee in the absence of resources, that classes will continue at its five secondary schools in the next week.
They said they have been relying on the goodwill of stakeholders, particularly parents, teachers and alumni associations, to help with the basic operations including payment of wages and salaries to janitorial and ancillary staff.