Caldwell dwellers in the Fofee Town community over the week jubilated after a newly constructed and furnished school was handed over to the Ministry of Education (MOE) by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for use by students in the town and neighboring communities.
Students of the Fofee Town Primary School, which has 180 pupils, (83 males and 96 females) from six communities say they will benefit tremendously from the new school.
“Every month my mother spends L$1,500 for me to cross the river in a canoe to be able to attend school. As you can see, the school was in a poor condition with no bathroom. But this new school that has everything inside will give us all the zeal and something to look forward to when we come to school now,” added Princess Khran, a student of the 6thgrade.
Principal Morris Dixon Fofee says that he is overwhelmed by the commitment of the government and looks forward to working with the MOE further.
“This is a dream we’ve had. The school started with a study class and the people saw the need to build a school here. PLAN International had a quick impact project and built this school in 2008. Due to the poor condition we wrote the government and told them that there was a need for a new school to be built and luckily for us it happened,” he said.
UNICEF managed the construction of the new school, which was funded by the government of Japan. The school has chairs, black boards, desk, library room, teachers lounge, administration office, bathroom and equipment.
“The children of Fofee Town will be able to continue their education in a safe learning environment designed for their needs in mind. The school includes seven new classrooms, toilets for boys and girls, hand washing facility and a separate hand pump for clean water,” stated UNICEF’s brief media briefing note.
Also, the facility, which is the latest to be launched under a grant from the Government of Japan who is facilitating the construction or rehabilitation of 90 schools in 11 counties across Liberia, has a unique feature.
“For the very first time, the school also features a reading room, and a principal’s office and a teachers’ lounge which will serve to enhance the school administration and provide teachers with a dedicated workspace,” the briefing stated.
Meanwhile, UNICEF’s representative during the handover ceremony, Sheldon Yett, stated that UNICEF looks forward to further working with the dynamic leader in the educational sector and is optimistic and looking forward to it.
Mr. Yett, who said he was present during another handing over ceremony in the same Louisiana months earlier, said:
“We have a whole new set of buildings here, buildings where an old school existed before, a school that had no working doors, no plumbing, no toilets, no water and sanitation. This week with the MOE we’ll be distributing over 700,000 kits of basic teaching supplies for all the schools because UNICEF believes in the future of education.
“Thanks to the generosity of Japan. Parents do whatever you can to keep these girls in the classroom, make sure that they’re fit and given time to study because studying is essential. Teachers have an important role to play, teach them, ask them questions; the future of this country is in your hands,” Mr. Yett added.
Furthermore, the Minister of Education, Hon. George K. Werner added that the Fofee community gave the land free of charge to the GOL and holds it accountable in making sure to deliver on the promise of education.
“We have a shared responsibility, the community owns what’s on the land and that means you should protect it along with your students so they can have a conducive atmosphere for learning. We thank the community for giving the free piece of land to educate children in this community,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Werner added that MOE is interested in promoting education for all, especially for girls.
“The enrollment here is more girls than boys, I’m happy to see that. We need to empower our girls and help them to stay on course until graduation. MOE will be monitoring this school to support these girls through graduation,” he disclosed. “We’re at the point of this coalition to change the direction of education. We’ll work with Fofee Town Primary School to make this school what it was meant to be.”