Liberia: Protest Rocks Bong College

-Students demand removal of the College’s President Massaquoi

 The Bong County Technical College (BCTC) has been at the center of protests as students demand the removal of President Dr. Roland Massaquoi.

They also point to challenges such as a shortage of lecturers, lack of access to student activity fees, outdated facilities, and transportation issues.

In recent days, aggrieved students have staged protests on the main campus of the college and the Gbarnga Administration Building, raising several concerns, including the alleged closure of online registration platforms, unauthorized connections to the college's power source, and the postponement of the Nursing Department's accreditation process. The protesters have been calling on the Bong County Legislative Caucus for prompt action. 

 On Monday, February 25, 2024, the students again assembled on the grounds of the Gbarnga Administration building to lock the doors of the Gbarnga Service Center on the grounds that their plights had long been ignored by the county's leadership.

The protesters are calling for immediate action to address these issues and have submitted a detailed petition outlining their grievances. Amongst other things, the aggrieved students, in a ten-count petition, highlighted the challenges they face due to the closure of the E-portal (Students Online Registration Platform), by the administration, the actions of Jungle Energy Power to illegally connect a private business entity — Passion Hotel, #1, and surrounding houses on the transformer provided to the college by USAID.

They also named the continued postponement of the Nursing Department Accreditation process by the BCTC Administration, which, according to them, has led to the closure of the institution for about three semesters. 

Moreover, the student alleged that the online e-portal/platform is being closed perpetually by the administration due to Massaquoi's alleged inability to pay the platform’s operator for his services. “The closure of the platform is causing serious embarrassment for students to access their past semester's grade sheets and to also register on the platform,” they said in their petition.

The students highlighted in their ten-count petition that the college is currently challenged by the shortage of lecturers in all six departments, including Agricultural Technology, Civil Engineering, Education, Mining Engineering, Nursing, and Information Technology Departments. 

They further said the alleged denial of students to benefit from the student activity fees and the Wi-Fi system on campus despite the payment of US$10.00 by every student during the registration every semester.

The disenchanted BCTC students said they have also observed a slow breakdown of some departments due to the lack of basic practical and teaching materials in the IT department, and agriculture, amongst others.  

The BCTC, which is considered the largest tertiary public institution in the county that holds students from the fifteen political subdivisions of Liberia, according to the students lacks buses to provide transportation for its students for clinical, field trips, outreaches, and other academic-related activities.

The aggrieved Bong County Technical students also named the alleged unpreparedness of the administration to re-open the college on January 15, 2024, adding that after the administration of BCTC had administered seven entrances with not less than 75 incoming students sitting each test at the cost of $4,000.00 LD and a series of walk-in entrances at the cost of $5,000.00LD for each show a clear manifestation that Dr Massaquoi cannot operate BCTC adequately.

In consideration of their counts, the BCTC students are urging the government to replace Dr. Massaquoi with a qualified and competent administrator, accelerate accreditation processes, and improve facilities and academic programs at the college.

They also want college fees to be reduced for less fortunate kids to enroll. They want additional qualified lecturers to be employed in all six departments and also help to provide buses to the institution for clinical rotations, field trips, outreaches, and other academic-related activities.

The BCTC students are also calling for budgetary increments to operate the institution to a full degree-granting institution towards the completion of the college and upgrade the academic programs at the college. 

The Bong County Legislative Caucus has acknowledged the students' concerns and has promised to address their petition promptly. The Caucus Chair, Senator Prince Kermue Moye, assured the students that their petition would be presented to President Boakai for prompt redress to their plights. 

He further assured the aggrieved students that an additional investigation would be conducted at the institution to find out the usage of funding allocated for the completion of the college by the past government.

The Bong County Senator further assured the students that their petition would be addressed within a week.