With less than 24-hours to the close of the month-long voter registration (VR) exercise, students from at least five schools under the Monrovia Consolidated School System were on Monday frustrated when Montserrado County Education Officer (CEO) Cecelia Reeves ordered them back to class while they were participating in a day-long VR awareness campaign.
The dying minutes VR awareness campaign was launched by VOTE-LIBERIA, a local NGO that sees free education as the affair and responsibility of the government of Liberia and citizens in the private sector.
Madam Reeves ordered the students to return to their various campuses because they were carrying out the awareness campaign during normal school hours.
“Leave the streets and go back to your respective classes,” Madam Reeves ordered the students, who felt she was interfering in their sacrifice of time to call on their colleagues who had not yet registered to vote.
“I am sending these students back to their schools because VOTE-LIBERIA should not have relied on only school administrators to go ahead to bring the students into the streets,” Madam Reeves noted.
She, however, said the students’ action was commendable, but untimely because the students were out in their uniforms during school hours without her knowledge.
“Your principals or whoever allowed you to come out today have done the wrong thing by not informing the District Education Officer; lest I speak of me, the CEO,” she said.
In their reaction to the CEO’s action, the founder and chief executive of VOTE-LIBERIA, Edwin C. Simpson, said it was disappointing that the CEO did not trust that judgment of the school administrators that allowed the students to be part of the campaign.
“We did not just jump up to bring these students in the streets,” Mr. Simpson said, adding that the invited school administrators were informed through written communications.
“They approved of the students joining us in the VR awareness campaign a little over one week ago.
“Of the 2.5 million eligible voters targeted, we have received an authentic preliminary report that only 1,798,830 have registered so far,” he said, noting that such news is frustrating for the October polls.
The chief program planner of VOTE-Liberia VR campaign, Ms. Asatu Tuss Toure, called on the CEO to closely work with school authorities on their programs including those that allow their students to participate in outdoor events such as the VR awareness campaign.
Ms. Toure is the 2015 Face of Paynesville pageant winner.