Education Minister Refutes Rights Violation Claims

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The Minister of Education (MOE), Madam Etmonia David Tarpeh, has defended her Ministry in the face of allegation that the MOE has violated the rights of students by not teaching the Liberian Constitution in schools.

Minister Tarpeh strongly protested that the MOE was not in violation of students’ right to knowing the Constitution of Liberia as claimed in some quarters.

In Chapter II, Article 10 Liberian Constitution under General Principles of National Policy, it states:  “The Republic shall ensure the publication and dissemination of this Constitution throughout the Republic, and the teaching of its principles and provisions in all institutions of learning in Liberia.”

However, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer on Friday, February 14, at the Paynesville Town Hall following the launch of the Constitution Review Committee (CRC) Civic Education, Minister Tarpeh said, since the Constitution was written and endorsed in 1986, not many copies have been produced and given the Ministry to be adopted in schools.

Minister Tarpeh contended that it is one thing to have the curriculum obliging teachers to teach, and it is another thing to have the textbooks; something she noted is a blaming factor for ignorance of the students and others to the Constitution.

She said if copies of the Constitution were produced enough to enable Liberians have access to a copy, both students and non-student–who read could know it through by reading.

On the issue of the Constitution review process, Minister Tarpeh told the gathering that it was in the right direction for Liberians to be participants in this major decision-making.

This, she observed, will allow everyone to be accountable to whatever good or bad it brings to the country.

The Minister’s comment on rights violation followed accusation by University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU) secretary-general, Calvin Raymond Summon that the MOE has not complied with its mandate in teaching Liberian students the Constitution.

Considering Article 10, as quoted above, Mr. Summon said that “because the Constitution has not been taught in schools, young Liberians and adults alike are ignorant to the provisions therein, and even their own constitutional rights.”

He described the review process as “meaningful,” but urged the CRC to work hard as the challenges in making Liberians to understand the Constitution and participate in discussion are enormous (huge).

He also urged the committee to consider the student community cardinal in the review process, noting that they are the ones to discuss the issues and come out with several other suggestions.

Meanwhile, the CRC Civic Education launch is meant for civic educators to get out in the field and distribute available information about the process and the Constitution among citizens, discuss with them, and solicit their views through written documents and submit same to members of the committee.

The exercise is expected to last for four months and will take place throughout the country.

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