-REO Wuo discloses
The Regional Education Officer of the Central Region, including Bong, Grand Bassa, Lofa, Nimba and Rivercess counties, Mr. George S. S. Wuo, has disclosed that all public schools will be turned over to the community as community schools.
Speaking at the late graduation ceremony of Francis Manweah Public School, commonly known as “Child Friendly School,” Mr. Wuo said the government does not have money to fully support all schools, in terms of employment and development.
Mr. Wuo said the promise government made of a free and compulsory education in all public primary schools has not been implemented because there is no partner(s) to support the program.
“Few years ago, after the government of Madam Sirleaf took over, it pronounced free and compulsory education for all primary and junior high schools,” he said.
“Government made that promise, hoping that there will be money to support the schools, but that money is not forthcoming,” he explained.
Mr. Wuo said based on the budget shortfall, the government, through the Ministry of Education (MoE), has decided to transition all government schools into community schools, where the community/the parents will take full responsibility for supporting the school in their respective communities.
Therefore, the government is putting more emphasis on the Parent Teacher Association/PTA to carry on school development and ensure that other support staffs, like security, janitor and volunteers, are catered to.
“The government will not be able to do everything, so we are depending on the parents to help their community schools,” he said.
“Government does not have security and janitor as well as volunteers, so if the parents cannot come in to assist the school, then it will be difficult for our students,” he added.
The issue of free and compulsory education was one of the issues the chiefs and elders of Nimba County raised at the recent County Council Sitting, where they complained that school administrators were annoying and charging too much fees in public schools.
But the County Education Officer, Moses Dologbay, countered that government was not doing enough to cater to the needs of the school; therefore, some fees were attached to help with other development projects in the schools and also ensure that the learning atmosphere was improved.
This year the Ministry of Education announced that no public school should collect fees from students below grade 10. Rather, L$700 should be collected from students from grade 10 to grade 12.
Despite this announcement, school administrations are collecting school fees at all levels, and the least in some of the schools is L$1,000 to L$2,750.
Earlier, Mr. Nya Taylor Guanue, Jr., the principal of John Wesley Pearson High School in Ganta, which is one of the leading public schools in Nimba County, confirmed collecting fees at all levels of the school.
“The government told us to collect registration fee from schools covered by free and compulsory education, but not tuition,” he said.
He said the tuition collected was intended to carry on developments within the confines of the school and it was done with the concern of the PTA.
Mr. Taylor outlined some of the developments carried out as fencing of the schools, repairing of chairs/benches, construction of DEO and CEO residences, PE T-shirt, among others.
“Education is so expensive for someone to complain about paying L$2,000 plus. But if the parents think education is expensive, they should try ignorance,” said Sam Gonsahn, Jr., principal of the Geolanda Community School in Ganta.
However, Mr Wuo has urged the 103 graduates to be focused and honest in their endeavors while pursuing higher education.