3,000 Teen Students Get ‘Back to School’ Jobs

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More than 3,000 students across Montserrrado County were over the weekend employed in a 5-day clean-up program, beginning from Monday -Friday, January 26-30, 2015.

Each student will earn US$50.00 and would be paid through the Lonestar-Ecobank Mobile Money – which means the US$50 would be converted into Liberian dollars because mobile money does not deal with United States dollars – and government rate is US$1 to L$82.

The campaign is a part of the President’s Back-to-School Clean-up initiative, to motivate Liberian teen students as well as help parents and guardians prepare their children or wards for the reopening of school as the Ebola situation winds down.

The program, known as the Special Presidential Back to School Clean-up Initiative, is organized and implemented by the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

The virtually youthful students were recruited over the weekend from 38 communities through a lottery (a secret ballot of either a blank paper or a paper with the inscription ‘job.’)

The fixed ages of the work-to-study students are between the ages of 15-21 years old, while the classes are from the 6th to the 12th grade.

According to the recruitment methodology, 48% of those recruited are boys; 47% girls; and 5% disabled.  Each center is to recruit 78 students.

The recruitments were divided into five zones: Bushrod Island, Somalia Drive, Tubman Boulevard, Paynesville and Central Monrovia.

Each zone has at least eight centers (schools); and a supervisor, monitor and at most two registrars — each center enlisted 78 students.

In separate interviews, the Supervisors for the Gabriel Kpolleh Public School’s center in New Georgia Estate, Mr. Benedict Williams, and the center in the Elizabeth Blunt Elementary and Junior High School in Chocolate City, Mr. Saidu Vasco Nyei, expressed their satisfaction over the tedious-but-successful recruitment process.

Mr. Williams began the recruitment (lottery process) by 10:02 am after waiting endlessly for the official lottery ‘recruitment papers’. However they were able to do the lottery in two transparent buckets.

There wasn’t a queue for the disabled, but only two queues – boys and girls, as of the time our reporter was there.

“We are still looking up to the disables to come on Monday,” Mr. Williams said.

For his part, Mr. Nyei began also about 9:36 a.m., was able to get both the official lottery recruitment papers and the sheets but not the transparent bucket, so they used plastics bags.

There weren’t any disabled seen also during which of reporter was there.

The Freeway Baptist High School’s center had all three – the recruitment lottery papers, sheets and transparent buckets, but the rush to get in the fence to participate in the lottery led to two getting injured.  Students Fatta Konneh and Famatta Gbor were squeezed and almost suffocated – and fell.

The Supervisor of the Freeway Baptist High School’s center, Mr. Kaagay Yeelegar said his 5-man team was able to quickly coordinate the queues, afraid of the worst.

“The pushing against the gate stopped, we gently pushed the crowd farer from the gate and coordinated them gently and everybody was the winner,” Mr. Yeelegar said.

There were no disabled up to time our reporter was there.

Besides the crowdedness, some of the students were seen crying for joy, having picked the ‘job paper’ while others were very disappointed for the ‘blank paper’ – which means no job.

Ms. Priscilia Toe, 9th grader at the Kulah Memorial Academy said: “She cried because she had a job to go back to school, but her bigger sister wasn’t able to get a job, because she picked blank paper.”

Interestingly, Ms. Toe begged the Supervisor of the Gabriel Kpolleh Public School’s center to give her sister a second chance, but was uncompromisingly denied.

At the Elizabeth Blunt center, Mr. Swen Sackie, 12th grader at the Lombardia High School, sobbed: “Completing high school is fulfilling my parents’ dream, because both of them didn’t finish with school.”

Meanwhile, the supervisors, monitors and registrars will be responsible to assign and watch the kids (teen students) for the five days.

“We hope to be paid on time and shouldn’t be like the days of Mary Broh,” one of the recruited students, who requested anonymity, said.

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