–As President Weah, expresses disappointment over poor management of schools
President George Weah has rebuked his Minister of Education and the head of the Monrovia Consolidated School System for the filthy and unsanitary conditions of public high schools across Montserrado County and further threatened to dismiss them when he sees it necessary.
The President, during a surprise tour to government-operated schools in Monrovia and its suburbs, was shocked in disbelief when he saw students attending classes in a poor sanitary and impoverished environment. Some areas he visited had filthy bathrooms, leaky roofs, and unconducive classrooms.
“I am very disappointed in school authorities. I am so shocked to see students learning in such a poor state without the authorities doing anything about it. The education authorities are wrong to allow students to attend class in such a poor condition. They are wrong and, these issues are something that they should have taken care of. I wonder we can think about our own children seeing these things,” President Weah said, expressing regret at the deplorable conditions.
According to President Weah, he is also disappointed in his education authorities for deceiving him by presenting impressive documents depicting that they are doing better jobs, contrary to the existing reality on the ground.
As a result, the President said punitive administrative actions are expected against individuals responsible for the poor and deplorable state of the country’s education system after further assessment and interactions.
“Lots of materials come before us but sometimes we are deceived.” President Weah added: “It’s good that I decided to come to see some myself. The education sector of Liberia is very important to me. I wanted to see things myself without anyone telling me again about the problem facing schools across the county and the country at large. Now I know there are problems with libraries, bathrooms and classroom conditions and roofs of buildings.”
Liberia is one of the developing countries in the world with a weak education system like some of the poorest countries. According to BBC’s 2018 research report, fewer than 40% of children complete primary education, and of adult women who complete elementary school, just one in four could read a sentence. “In Liberia’s education system, patronage and bribery by administrators, professors, and students are widely reported. Abuse of resources, teacher absenteeism, and sex for grades are common,” the BBC noted in its report.
Ministry of Education’s budget for the fiscal year 2020-2021 is US$77,939,293, but civil society organizations have been calling for an increase of 20 percent. Out of the US$77,939,283 budget for the Ministry of Education, US$3, 896,057 is for the Monrovia Consolidated School System for administration and management of schools under MCSS.
After the visit, the Liberian leader said he noticed that public schools are in urgent need of chairs, books, clean bathrooms, and better classroom environment, and he has instructed the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, along with the Minister of Education, to quickly find solutions to the problem.
President Weah expressed that it was unfair for authorities of the Ministry of Education and the Monrovia Consolidated School System to keep public schools in such deplorable conditions.
“I came to see not just how the students are doing, but how the environment is for learning, and honestly I am disappointed because the schools are very deplorable. Students should not sit and see such a thing happening now,” President Weah said.
In further rebuke, the President said the government claims to have leaders including Minister of Education, principals and superintendents, and yet the schools are in deplorable conditions and they are doing nothing about it.
He said there is a need to invest more in the future generation of Liberia. “We need to do more for you people to ensure that students learn in a better atmosphere.”
“2021 will be a year that I will visit schools and to make sure that the bathrooms are good, the classrooms are conducive for learning. We will ensure that the libraries of various schools are fully furnished for the students,” President Weah said.
According to him, the government will provide good books for schools that lack them and ensure that the libraries of various schools are functional.
During the tour on Wednesday, January 13, the Liberian leader visited the D. Twe High School with almost 800 students; William V. S. Tubman High School with over 950 students; Monrovia Elementary Demonstration School, 419 students; Newport Junior High School, and Boatswain Junior High School. Concerning the low enrollment of students, school administrators said registration was still in progress.
President Weah said going forward, everyone should be on their toes to make sure that things are in place or there will be consequences. He also called on students to be hopeful and stay in school.