As of yesterday, March 2, all schools across the country fully resumed academic activities in keeping with the 2014/2015 academic calendar of events released late January by authorities at the Ministry of Education (MOE), and readjusted by the members of the National Legislature.
The exercise to reopen all schools yesterday came against the backdrop of the “necessary” adjustment made in the official date of reopening schools based on government’s pronouncement two months ago, ordering the resumption of classes on February 2.
The pronouncement at the time received mixed reactions with two different dates being contested for the reopening of schools.
The government, through the MOE, announced the resumption of basic academic activities beginning Monday, January 12, with student registration followed by teacher orientation and other preparatory activities.
Thereafter, instruction would have then commenced on Monday, February 2. With that pronouncement, school administrators and students were already urged to strictly observe the Ebola preventive measures that should have been mounted on all campuses.
Early last year, schools throughout the country were ordered closed during the second outbreak of the EVD that claimed the lives of 9000 people.
The action by the government to have schools reopened came as the result of the drastic decline now in the number of new Ebola cases across the country.
Authorities at the MOE released the academic calendar for 2015, basing it on the February 2 set date.
But while the exercise was progressing with students set to enter classrooms on February 2, the Joint Legislative Committee on Education, Public Administration and Health recommended that schools re-open on March 2, instead of February 2 as announced by the MOE.
The Committee said the postponement was necessary to allow for adequate preparation of school facilities and to give the MOE, and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH/SW) ample time to deliver the necessary Ebola preventive facilities to the over 5,181 schools in the country.
The extension, according to the Lawmakers, was also to enable parents to raise the money for school fees and uniforms.
The Committee’s recommendation was contained in a report derived from a meeting held with authorities of the Ministries of Education and Health.
According to the Joint Committee, it also held a series of consultations with stakeholders and public and private school administrations, who said the decision by government to reopen schools on February 2, 2015 was not realistic.
Following the reading of the report, Plenary debated and resolved that it should be accepted, thereby leaving Speaker J. Alexander Tyler to mandate the chief clerk immediately to communicate the decision to authorities of the MOE and MOH/SW as to the March 2, 2015 date agreed to by members of the joint committee to reopen schools.
Shortly after the information reached the MOE, its authorities adjusted the February 2 date by two weeks difference to Monday, February 16, 2005, for the resumption of classes.
What was not clear then about the MOE’s February 16 reopening date was whether they reached an agreement with the Lawmakers on that reopening date. However, some schools, particularly private and faith-based institutions went ahead anyway and reopened for business.
Also too, the MOE added that while the reopening of school would be delayed by two weeks, other academic activities, including registration of students, teachers’ orientation, cleaning up of campuses and installation of Ebola preventive facilities continued until yesterday when almost all the schools are now reopened.
Meanwhile, University of Liberia (UL) has at long last announced the resumption of classes beginning Tuesday. March 17, 2015, the vice president for Public Relations, Norris Tweh, has announced.
According to Mr. Tweh, the decision to reopen the institution came about after consulting with relevant government authorities seeking the solution for the speedy reopening of the university.
He said that the government has meanwhile assured the UL authorities that classes will resume by next week in line with what the administration planned.
Mr. Tweh disclosed that the government also assured the UL Administration that it would provide the necessary funding for the resumption of academic activities.
He made the announcement over the weekend when he spoke in an interview with reporters at his office on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.
“Even though the actual funding requested from the government by the UL for reopening and the smooth running of the university is not yet available, any amount that will be on hand will be managed so as to enable us to reopen on March 17 for the 2015 academic year,” Mr. Tweh assured.
The UL official noted that the fund, if made available by the government, would be used to pay some of the outstanding instructors’ salary arrears for the past few months.
Mr. Tweh disclosure comes on the heels of an earlier pronouncement by Dr. Dennis that there were no funds for the reopening of the institution.
Dr. Dennis’ statement threatened the hopes of the over 30,000 students and there were reports that some students had decided to abandon seeking higher education at the UL.
“As of early March, we will be conducting workshops for teachers, especially on the preventive measures so that our campuses can be safe, thus leading to the reopening of the school, Mr. Tweh said.
His pronouncement has restored the nearly lost hopes of the students who are reportedly getting set to continue their studies.
The UL as well as tertiary and other institutions of learning in the country were closed last year by the government as part of additional measures aimed at stopping the transmission of the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD.)