Schools in Liberia closed as nationwide strike begins

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Liberia’s ministry of education has announced the closure of all government-run schools, as teachers and other civil servants started a nationwide strike on Monday to demand salary arrears.

The ministry’s spokesperson J Maxime Bleetahn told the BBC that public schools will be reopened on 3 January.

He said they fear students will agitate if they go to school and find their teachers missing.

“We didn’t want to be reactive so we thought to close schools until January 3 while we negotiate with the striking teachers,” Mr Bleetahn said

The strike by Liberia’s 77,000 civil servants is indefinite.

Their union leader Moibah Johnson said: “This action comes as a result of the government of Liberia’s failure… to have met our demands.”

“Some of us are owing landlords rents, our children are not in school because there is no money to pay their tuition and we have nothing to offer them this Christmas,” he added.

The Liberian economy has declined drastically in recent times, with banks unable to pay depositors.

Presidential press secretary Isaac Solo Kelgbeh last week told the BBC that the government was “surprised” by the strike because it was meeting the civil servants‘ demands.

He hoped for more negotiations with the union’s leadership to convince them to call off the strike as government steps up effort to settle their demands.

Titi