Public Schools Remain Closed In Bong County

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Despite the Ministry of Education’s pronouncement for the reopening of schools across the country on February 16, most public schools in Bong County are yet to resume classes.

No official reasons have been provided so far to the Daily Observer up to press time last night.

However, a survey conducted by the paper yesterday in Gbranga, Bong County’s Provincial City, established that most public schools’ doors were closed.

At the Dolokelen Gboveh High School, the only public high school in Gbarnga, there were no students or teachers on campus as the school’s doors remained closed and debris seen blowing about had littered the vicinity.

Other public institutions visited included the Nathaniel Varney Massaquoi High School, the John Flomo Bakalu Junior High School and the Suakoko Central High School. They were all vacant with no signs of reopening.

School authorities contacted by the Daily Observer said their failure to resume academic activities is due to the lack of instructional materials such as chalk, books as well as the Ebola preventive equipment, including hand sanitizers, hand washing buckets and temperature testing equipment.

On the other hand, major private schools in the county, including St. Martin’s Catholic High School resumed classes in compliance with the MOE’s mandate.

Education Ministry authorities in the county refused to speak on the matter when contacted by this paper.

It may be recalled that the MOE recently suspended the acting Education Officer for Bong County, Madam Lydia Cooper, and several other principals of public schools for allegedly collecting extra school fees outside the ministry’s set fees.

The MOE recently announced that public school students from grades 1-9 would enroll “free of charge,” while students in the senior high level would register with an affordable fee of L$700 which could be paid in three installments.

Education Regional Coordinator for Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties, George S.S. Wuo told the Daily Observer recently that the acting CEO and the four principals were suspended for “time indefinite for violating the ministry’s policies.”

He informed this paper that the ministry’s action to suspend the acting CEO and the four principals stemmed from persistent reports from human rights groups in the county who claim that the CEO and the principles in question were charging excessive fees.

Meanwhile, some parents who spoke to this paper argued that the MOE authorities had not done much to ensure that the necessary anti-Ebola materials are provided before the reopening of schools.

At the same time, human rights groups operating in the county who reported that schools were collecting additional fees have not commented on the failure of public schools to resume classes as mandated by the MOE.

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