Demonstrations Rock Margibi

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Protesting students in Unification Town (Smell-No-Taste) near the Roberts International Airport (RIA) in Margibi County yesterday blocked the airport/Monrovia highway demanding for the return of their teachers to classes.

Also on Monday, normal commercial activities and the free-flow of traffic were brought to a standstill on in Kakata, Margibi County’s political capital, when stated similar protest by taking to the streets in solidarity with the leadership of the National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL) demanding for the resignations of the Minister of Education and the Superintendent of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS).

In their action, which turned violent, the students ransacked several public buildings in Kakata. Those vandalized government facilities, according to report monitored included the 13th Judicial Circuit Court, offices of the National Elections Commission, the county’s Service

Center and part of the fence that covers the Ministry of Education (MOE) facilities in Kakata.

According to reports, government schools all over the county on Monday and Tuesday shut down due to the constant absence of teachers from the classrooms.

Some local radio stations, including the Liberia Broadcasting System, have reported that other than Margibi, some public school students and teachers in Lofa, Gbarpolu, River Cess, and other counties have joined in the demonstrations to demand Werner’s resignation.

A teacher of Lango Lappaye High School, Emmanuel J. Bull, in a phone interview, said over one thousand students on Monday joined their teachers in a demonstration intended to see Education Minister George K. Werner, and the Superintendent of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS), Adolphus B. Jacobs, resign their respective posts.

Mr. Bull said the students, who came from Lango Lappaye, E. J. Yancy, the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI) Demonstration School, among other public schools, blocked the main street of Kakata leading to Monrovia thus causing a huge traffic jam from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Similar situation also occurred in Smell-No-Taste near the RIA yesterday morning resulting to the blocking of traffic, some of which had passengers that were traveling out of the country via RIA.

The teachers’ action, according to Mr. Bull has caused schools not to function for nearly a week since they began receiving information from the NTAL to abandon classes due to what they claimed to be Minister Werner’s failed education policies.

“We go on our campuses as teachers to teach, only to notice that no teaching has been going on for about six school days since the NTAL leadership made the call for Werner to resign.

“Most of my friends have told me that they are in agreement with the NTAL that Werner and Jacobs should step down, because they lack the credentials and leadership abilities to manage the education sector,” Bull explained.

Peter M. Dolo, a “B” Certificate student at KRTTI said he saw students marching from the Demonstration School, chanting: “No learning, no peace!!.”

“The Demonstration School is one of the areas we do our practical teaching, but these days, we hardly meet students for lessons, and teachers are not assigned to teach,” Mr. Dolo added.

NTAL Secretary General Samuel Johnson said students’ involvement in the demand for Werner and Jacobs to resign is a result of their teachers not being happy working under the leadership of the two education officials.

Mr. Johnson said the issues promised under Werner’s reform are not in the interest of the education sector; and therefore, NTAL will not give any credence to the so-called reform.

“Werner, who met good agendas from the previous administrations, has decided to consider those agendas as scrap.

“Instead of doing what is right, Werner, a bluff boy, has introduced policies that he cannot possibly achieve, even if he were to stay in office for the rest of his life,” Mr. Johnson said.

He, meanwhile, termed the outsourcing of certain percentages of primary education to Partnership School Liberia (PSL) as a means only intended to misuse tax payers’ money and also enrich Werner and his cohorts.

However, MOE Communication’s Director, J. Maxim Blateen termed Mr. Johnson’s claims as misleading information only intended to seek public relevance, and that the claims have distorted the realities associated with the ministry’s reform policy.

“The Ministry is working in accordance with its mandates,” Mr. Blaten said, adding, the MOE is carrying out the production of biometric ID Cards for all its employees, training of teachers, and renovating schools in dilapidated conditions as well as holding the PSL Program, among others, to take the system from “mess to best.”

In a related development, Minister says he will not resign his post until President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf decides to sack him.

He told a radio station in Monrovia that those the President appointed including him, serve at the will and pleasure of the President.

“Increasing calls for my resignation will not put me of track, concerning my mandate to serve the country,” Werner told ELBC Radio Super Morning Show yesterday.

And because of that, he has instructed County Education Officers to give reports on teachers who failed to go back to class for “administrative action.”

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