The earlier euphoria which greeted the commencement of student registration yesterday across the country clearly indicated how the parents as well as students were beyond weary of sitting at home in the wake of school closure.
Last week the government, through the Ministry of Education (MOE), announced the resumption of basic academic activities with immediate effect beginning yesterday Monday, January 12.
Registration for old and new students will be followed by teacher orientation and other preparatory activities.
Thereafter, according to MOE authorities, instruction will commence effective Monday, February 2, during which time and subsequently until Liberia is declared Ebola-free, school administrators and students are being urged to observe strictly the Ebola preventive measures.
Early last year, schools throughout the country were ordered closed during the second outbreak of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) that claimed the lives of many people. The action of the government to have schools reopened is the result of the decline in the number of new Ebola cases.
Ms. Cyntihia Linneh, a mother of three, had been wishing since academic activities were suspended last September, to register her children, particularly her 12-year old son, Foday Zayzay, now in the 6th grade.
Schools were suspended by the government primarily due to the deadly Ebola epidemic that erupted in March 2014.
Since then, schools in the country have remained closed and students have lost almost an entire semester and a half of schooling.
With the start of registration, Ms. Linneh told the Daily Observer that she could not bear the thought of her children missing school. As such, she and other parents yesterday trooped on the campus of Monrovia Demonstration School to pick up the kids’ registration forms.
“My brother, I am so happy that the government announced the resumption of academic activities, because my children have been at home the whole while school was closed.”
Another parent, Ms. Qunnie Johnson, was so concerned about the academic fate of her three children, especially her 15 year-old daughter Sally Kaka, who is in the 6th grade.
“For me as a parent, I want school to reopen, because our children have been sitting at home for so long due to Ebola. But now, with the ongoing registration, I am so happy to see them back into the classrooms,” Qunnie said.
According to her, the longer children stay without school, the more difficult it will be for families to keep them out of trouble, especially at the risk of teenage pregnancy.
She has by now noticed that school is a very important part of a child’s upbringing and missing it has many consequences (penalties).
At the Monrovia College and Industrial Training School, Incorporated, where a general clean-up campaign is ongoing to set up the classes and the entire campus for the return of students, the Acting president, Molley A. Dukuly, says it was important for the government to reopen schools.
Mr. Dukuly, however, called on the government to keep its promise of reopening the schools in February, and also provide the promised Ebola preventive facilities such as the non-contact thermometers, hand sensitizers and hand washing materials, etc.
“We don’t see the process of reopening schools to be bad, because it is not good for the kids to be roaming around, even though there are challenges coupled with the Ebola preventive measures in maintaining the school open.”
Mr. Dukuly says the children are home all day, though school administrators have to work and it is difficult keeping the school-age kids under proper control without school. It was important and or necessary that the government announced the reopen of schools, he said.
“The more they sit at home, they more idle they are and they get to do bad things,” says another parent, Ishmael Lamie.
“If they have a lot of things to do in January, we can try to wrap-up the process to return to classes by early February. We can use the old school calendar until they come back to the regular one.”
For Chris Kolleh, a parent of four, it is foolhardy for people to keep pinning the reopening of school or arguing about the date for resumption of academic activities as we wait to see the country become Ebola free.
According to Mr. Kolleh, there are adult Liberians who have been going to work, including parents that sell in the local markets.
He says if parents can continue doing things that they usually do without fear, he questions the motives of those who constantly say it is dangerous for school to reopen.
“They complain that Ebola is in the country, but they had elections here. So why can’t school open? If an election and campaign can go on, then school can open, too,” says Kolleh.
“We are happy for the reopening of school. There is no excuse this time for the government not to reopen school.”
Like Chris, other parents say children can go to school due to the huge drop in the Ebola cases, while observing the safety measures that are being put into place at home to keep them safe from the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD).
With the process of registration ongoing, eager school going children have been trooping on the various campuses picking up information sheets as well as going through the process of registration.
Some of the kids were observed yesterday at the entrance of a school downtown Monrovia, making inquiry from the security guard as to the way the process was ongoing.