…Says teachers, like drivers will hold license before teaching
The new authorities of the Ministry of Education (MOE) have instituted 12-count plans they would execute to strengthen the country’s education sector in the coming years, the Minister, Dr. Ansu D. Sonii has revealed.
Some of the tough measures, which the ministry has already embarked upon, according to Dr. Sonii, include the licensing of teachers, re-introduction of civics education in the national curriculum, and the drafting of law to establish an academic crime court to prosecute individuals suspected of committing fraud in the sector.
Sonii explained that the new policies will ensure strict compliance, “because the new team has resolved that all teachers be licensed by the MoE authorities to identify a particular holder as a trained and bona-fide teacher.”
He said teachers would be evaluated through examinations to determine whether they are qualified to serve as teachers in the classroom, “but mind you, graduating from any of the rural teacher training institutes does not automatically make a graduate a teacher, until that person can be licensed by the MoE, you are not a teacher.”
The ministry, Dr. Sonii said, will not consider degrees and certificates from teacher training institutes across the country as a basis for licensing of teachers; because those certificates and degrees are papers obtained to teach, which doesn’t necessarily make the holder a qualified teacher.
Dr. Sonii spoke on Thursday, March 1 at his first crowded press conference since President George Weah nominated him to the position couple weeks ago.
According to him, the exercise will soon kickoff and is expected to be completed in two years’, as part of the President Weah’s ‘Pro-Poor Agenda’ to protect the teaching profession, adding, “one cannot just come from anywhere to teach our kids. This is unacceptable.”
“We don’t want a 5th grader teaching calculus, because such persons will only be displaying their knowledge and not necessarily teaching,” he emphasized.
Minister Sonii said those who have spent more than 35 to 40 years in the classrooms would be exempted from writing the test to be qualified to obtain the pending teaching license, but those in such category will have to go through a ‘cleaning process,’ thereby refreshing memories to their previous lesson plans.
Sonii spoke against the backdrop of reports of unqualified teachers being assigned in the classrooms, especially in rural parts of the country, where it has been repeatedly proven that high school graduates and or school dropouts are teaching, because of the lack of qualified teachers to take up assignments in those areas.
Minister Sonii meanwhile threatened to aggressively punish principals of schools, who will allow ‘unlicensed teachers’ into their classrooms.
He noted that teachers’ licenses would be revoked for various reasons, noting that when a teacher’s license is revoked, that person will not be allowed to teach in any school (public or private).
As a result of those policies, Dr. Sonii said he would formulate a monitoring team to visit every school, “because President Weah appointed my colleagues and me to compliment the works of county and district educational officers by visiting their respective schools’ territories.
Bringing aboard local authorities As though the education officers are effective in the discharge their assigned duties, Dr. Sonii wants the ministry to provide compensation to local government authorities, including district commissioners, city majors to help monitor schools with the intent to discourage students working on the private farms of teachers or leaving school to attend video clubs and entertainment centers, especially the ones trading alcoholic beverages to school-going underage pupils.
Dr. Sonii, a former professor of the University of Liberia, has also crafted one new policy to also ensure that students are not transferred from one school to another, except under the supervision of the schools’ administration only, or else students who failed or were expelled for one reason or the other, would be allowed to register in any other school.
“Under our laws, doing so constitutes one of those crimes in academia, and is punishable through the academic crime court,” Dr. Sonii declared.
According to him, the ministry would initiate fines and penalties for businesses selling alcoholic beverages to students during school hours.
Minister Sonii noted that the admission of students into video clubs during school hours is prohibited and operators of video clubs and beaches caught would be severely punished by his team of officials.
He also disclosed that the new team has drafted a law to be forwarded to the Legislature to set up of an academic crimes court that would prosecute perpetrators of crimes ranging from malpractices during exams, self-promotion of students, as well as collection of the so-called flexibility fees during the administration of public exams and so forth.
Sonii’s dream is to improve the country’s education sector. Therefore we wants the academic crimes court separate from other criminal courts at the Temple of Justice, but with budgetary support from the Supreme Court.
His first media interaction was attended by his deputy for Administration, Latim Da-Thong and several other appointees and several other members of the clerical staff.