Liberia: Two Teachers to Hundreds of Students

... The Story of the Mulbah Town Public School in Bomi County

By Center for Transparency and Accountability

Welcome to Mulbah Town Public school, a government-run elementary school, with one big problem: more students to only two teachers. The two teachers, Marvee Kamara and Mabudu Folley, both double as Principal and Vice Principal for Instruction, respectively, for one-hundred and nine students.

Located in Suehn Mecca, Mulbah Town Public school has an enrolment record of between 160 to 200 students per semester.  But its current situation is not something new.  In 2019, the school only had three teachers, which includes the current principal and vice-principal.

 “What we do here is when I give a lesson to the first graders, then I move to the next class and do the same, and when I finish giving a lesson to all the classes. I go back in the same order to start explaining the lesson,” said Marvee, the principal of the school, which runs from 8 am to 1 pm.

Mabudu, who was then a teacher, also now serves as a registrar in charge of the Early Childhood Education (ECE), while his boss, Marvee, is busy from one class to another, assigning daily lessons to students from grades one to six. The same is repeated during the administration of tests for the students.

Worse, supply to the school is also inadequate, with only two boxes of chalks being received from the Ministry of Education yearly.

Marvee cited the lack of instructors and educational supplies as the major challenges confronting the school.

“To address some of the issues confronting rural schools in Liberia, the government and people of Liberia need to firstly understand that rural teachers are faced with extreme conditions,” said CENTAL. “Therefore, support from the Government such as sufficient incentive and designed reward could mitigate the exodus of teachers into the rural areas or help to empower those already living there.” 

CENTAL added that the “Investment of resources and time to address these challenges can have a lasting effect on teacher retention in rural schools. Ensuring that teachers’ working conditions, security arrangements, and salaries are attractive and specific to the needs of the rural teachers could also mitigate this dreadful situation.”

Except for the latrine, the school edifice was recently painted through a school grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). The GPE grant is usually disbursed by two installments at 60 and 40 percent. The total expected grant for the Mulbah Town Public School is US$800 for the semester 2021/2022.

The Mulbah Town Public School was constructed in 2017 at a cost of US$110,000 as one of the many projects implemented from the county social development fund from 2013-2017.

The situation is not unique to the Mulbah Town Public School, as most public schools across Liberia are faced with similar, some even worse, situations with students sitting on the floor to acquire education.

The Education Reform Act of 2011 obligates the Government to provide and ensure access to and increase the availability of high-quality educational opportunities for all citizens and residents without prejudice. Unfortunately, the pace to achieving the Education Reform Act is rather slow.

The law recognizes that education facilitates poverty reduction and is essential for the development of individual citizens and national growth. It further recognizes that education, especially Basic Education, equips people with the relevant skills to participate in essential economic and social activities of the nation.

“As education is prioritized in the urban centers, the same should be with the rural communities, especially taking into consideration the unique needs of the different locales. Having schools built and or having the same standards in all places may possess the ring of equality, but it conceals a bias favoring urban and suburban schools over the rural,” CENTAL added.