Catholic School in Ganta Struggles with Student Discipline

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In recent times, the St. Lawrence Catholic School, Ganta, has been in the spotlight, due to the expulsion of students for delinquent behavior including the use of narcotic substances.

Principal: ‘the students do not want to learn’

Unwholesome behavior of students of the St Lawrence Catholic School in Ganta is said to be raising concerns in public, with many blaming the act on administrative weakness.

The Daily Observer has established that there is no adequate lesson going on in the once prestigious Catholic school as compared to the past, due to the lack of teachers and the failure of the administration to properly supervise the learning process.

“All they are after is school fees, but they don’t care to monitor the learning aspects,” said Martin Mendin, a parent.

“Every time you visit the campus, the kids are outside doing nothing and sometimes the classes are without teachers, leaving the students roaming,” another lady told the Daily Observer.

The St. Lawrence Catholic School has long been one of the leading faith-based schools in Ganta, which has produced a lot of graduates, among them Wokie Dolo, former Miss Liberia.

But in recent times the school has been in the spotlight, due to the expulsion of students for delinquent behavior including the use of narcotic substances.

The Principal, Stephen S. Wamah, denied any lapses in the academic activities of the school, though he admitted that the students are generally not serious about coming to school on time.

“The students do not want to learn,” he said.

According to him, all his teachers are always punctual and it is the students who do not want to sit in class.

He displayed several phones seized from students, which he says are used to distract classroom activities. He blames the parents for giving phones to disrupt academic activities.

Students and parents have always complained about shortage of qualified teachers for courses like Chemistry, Physics and Trigonometry in the school, causing the senior students to abandon classes in frustration. Wamah denied the allegation and said the school has no shortage of teachers as claimed, noting that they have over 500 students with some of the classes overcrowded.

A student, who asked to not be named, told the Daily Observer that a Ghanaian teacher who was teaching trigonometry has left the school and that the chemistry teacher is very irregular.

Principal Wamah admitted the departure of the trigonometry teacher but said a university junior student was brought in as a substitute for that subject.

Lack of supervision is one area affecting many learning institutions in Nimba, especially the private and faith-based schools.

The Catholic school system in Liberia is known for its high reputation in preparing students for better academic performance.  Many Students with attractive literacy skills have been noticed to be of Catholic School background, and St. Lawrence has not been an exception to this prestige.  However, the situation at St. Lawrence now is leaving parents astonished and wondering about the cause of the school’s decline.

“We do not know what Catholic school is doing with all the money they are collecting from the students. Space for students is limited and there are not enough chairs for the students,” said a parent.

When contacted via mobile, the District Education Officer of Lower Ganta, Abel Legeay, said he is not aware of any overcrowding school as well as the shortage of teachers in any school within his operational areas; however, he assured that he would make a follow up before briefing the press.

In the last Joint Education Sector Review held in Ganta late last year, Minister Ansu Sonii warned all county education officers to be very vigilant in their supervision, ensuring that all schools meet up with all government standards and policies.

The Daily Observer has also established that many teachers in the Ganta School System are moonlighting (teaching from school to school) which makes it very difficult to be effective and committed to a particular school.

“Sometimes, we will sit in class for a whole period without a teacher, and other instances teachers will come late and we will have a little or nothing to do in our subjects in the day,” a female student said.

7 COMMENTS

  1. The blame lies with the socio-economic situations of the country. You will never get skillful people volunteering to teach for little or nothing. Honest teachers will surely “moonlight” to make ends meet.
    The people have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice the future of Liberia for their own selfish gains.
    I am a proud product of a Catholic school. I know the level of discipline exhibited and the quality of education dispensed therein.

    Cummings and “apologists” will truly fix things come 2023. Liberians need to make the right choice at the dusk of 2023.

  2. Oh! Wokie Dolo is a former graduate of St. Lawrence? Well, maybe she and her well-known relative and politically savvy CoP apologist Petarus Dolo could visit St. Lawrence in order to calm things down. This is doable!

    Realistically, Catholic institutions have a record of excellence. Catholic medical institutions are the best healthcare providers in the world. So what’s happening at St. Lawrence in Nimba? Are the Catholics in Nimba bowing down to the Methodists? What’s going on?

    In order to analyze the situation at St. Lawrence, let’s take a look at an old Greek adage. The ancient Greek adage states that “a fish rots from its head all the way to the tail”. In a real life situation, the adage makes sense. Given the fact that Catholic schools have a good record of academic excellence, it is highly unlikely for the students at St. Lawrence to be the problem. Most likely, the source of the problems at St. Lawrence exist because of the leadership. The leadership at St. Lawrence is the head where the “rot” occurs. Instead of dealing with the consequences of failure at the top, the blame is being passed down to the students, the tail. The question is how long has this issue been going on? In recent years? So why didn’t we hear about it? Business as usual has been the norm at St. Lawrence. It is time for “change” at St. Lawrence! The top brass at St. Lawrence must go….. that’s business as of now!

    Some CoP apologists will blatantly say that they will fix the problem of education when they sit in the presidential cockpit. Ladies and gentlemen, I get it. The CoP apologists are patriotic. But I think that in so many ways, the apologists are being pollyannaish! How?
    Because the educational problem that exists in Liberia is exigent. It needs answers or suggestions right now, not four years from now. To say that we should wait until a “new” regime comes to power four years from now is in my view an act of being theatrical. In other words, that’s not being serious and realistic.

    In other to be respected, this is the opportune time to present the proposals. Why wait until until four years from now? (God knows I will never cross over). If the CoP apologists present their proposals now than later, the Liberian voters will have the opportunity to get the proposals properly vetted before 2023. Because of proper scrutinization, don’t procrastinate or politicize. Present your proposals. Don’t be petrified. Be equanimous. Be firm. Be up to date.

    Suggestion:
    The notables or former graduates should be invited to talk to the students and their parents.
    It’s definitely okay for some CoP apologists to be invited, after all, illiteracy is high in Liberia. Every Liberian can play a role in the fight against illiteracy. Finally, St. Lawrence will rebound. The leadership is the problem in my view.

    As always,
    Peace.

  3. Not only St Lawrence but Liberia will rebound come 2023.

    We are not interested in word games but concrete solutions. Such concrete solutions will be provided when we have the assets of Liberia in our balance sheets.
    For now, we can make minimal impact. But don’t worry, I respect the graduates of Catholic schools and the people of Nimba. Something will be done soon and very soon.

    Peace

  4. My statements are simply opinions, which I have listened to from many friends and parents over the years, concerning the many problems of juvenile indiscipline in America.

    Whenever a society begins to experience problems of indiscipline amongst its youth at alarming rates, the need exists to check the health of the family. Why? “The family is the source of the propagation and perpetuation of life.” And in the family, one finds devotion to a higher calling, patriotism to one’s country, industry, benevolence, love and respect for others, discipline, and so forth.

    Nevertheless, periods of incivility and deadly civil wars have shredded the moral fibre of the Liberian society and have adversely affected the core family. The effects are now haunting the nation, which seems to be grappling for answers or is at a cross-road of rediscovering itself.

    Many families across cities and towns in Liberia are finding that their living standards have deteriorating, and therefore, they cannot keep up with the high costs of living, which include the feeding, education and clothing of their children. This crisis often has a tendency to raise angry and dysfunctional children.

    I often talk to some parents at the World Hope Church (WHC) that I attend here in the St. Paul, Minnesota area, the United States of America concerning the intractable issue of indiscipline among their teenagers in their homes. And one peculiar answer that I usually received is, “You should always keep a full refrigerator because they can really eat. Also, you don’t want to raise and be around hungry kids in the home. Such situation will translate into stubbornness in the home and eventually at school.”

    As laughable as this saying may seem and even though our situation is in another geographic setting, but there seems to be some universal truth in this assessment. Liberia is experiencing too many traumatic shifts in the unfair distribution of its national wealth to areas that are non-beneficial to the poor masses.

    These imbalances are also resulting to traumatic shifts in the mood and psychological behavior of our school age children and even in the general population.

  5. Correction: …their living standards “are” deteriorating; not their living standards “have” deteriorating. Thanks.

  6. Right.To.Be.Anonymous

    You remind me of the words of a speaker who once said of the family: “the family is the bedrock or the foundation of a society. And from the family flows the impulse of society.”

    How can Liberia prosper if the government’s policies are geared towards the impoverishment of its needed population. Can a house remain standing if its foundation is crumbling? No. So, the same illustration does apply to the Liberian paradigm.

    The country will not go any further by weakening and neglecting its poor. Instead, it will remain a failed state because it failed to deal with the extreme underdevelopment of its human resources.

  7. Invite several retired American educators and assign them to the classrooms with children who want to learn. There are those of us who do not need extra money and still have the ability to teach to the standards of an American education. Math teachers, science teachers, health and wellness teachers. I’m not talking about American’s taking over the educational system but simply lending their time and giving these kids a hand up. Housing and travel would be enough to entice them to come. There would be no putting up with disrespectful kids or staff showing up when they feel like it. We don’t work like that. Perhaps things have gotten too dangerous for this plan to work but only you would know that.

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