— Especially not on the basis of ‘mere assignments’, Education Minister asserts
As uncertainty looms over the resumption of academic activities in the country, Education Minister Ansu D. Sonii has said that there will be no promotion of students after the coronavirus pandemic in the country—a decision, according to ministry of education sources, is precipitated by the lack of exhaustion of the curriculum for the academic year (2019-2020).
Minister Sonii told newsmen in Monrovia that the Academic Calendar, which was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, will be finalized in line with the Ministry of Education’s plan—a move that would probably see the extension of the school year.
It is out of such initiative that students will have the opportunity to be promoted to the next classes or qualified for graduation, the minister noted.
The Minister stated that the provisions of assignments are intended for students to prepare themselves, noting that assignments are not enough for promotion in keeping with the Ministry’s own evaluation.
The provision of notes and assignments have been the order of the day, since government closed schools—a proactive measure that was intended to avoid spread of the virus among students.
The Education Minister on local radio warned school authorities who desire to promote their students to desist from such attempt as promotion cannot be done on the basis of what he called “mere assignments.”
This pronouncement from the MOE has been greeted with discontentment within the public as many think it is not a good move but a waste of time for the students and a waste of resources for parents, guardians and sponsors of those students.
Several students, especially 12th graders, made known their frustration over the MOE’s decision on social media and on the radio. They are frustrated that their plans for the future are somehow being upended by any delay in their academic sojourn.
The MOE in a statement noted that it recognizes the strike on students learning processes and the financial instability of schools, as well as teachers and school-workers, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
The ministry is therefore in consultation with education and health sector stakeholders, finalizing a comprehensive policy aimed at outlining clear strategies on mitigating several factors and challenges to facilitate the reopening of schools and complete the academic year 2019/2020 in line with the National curriculum.
“Sequel to the above, the Ministry of Education also confirms that NO DATE has been set for the resumption of classes and any physical academic activities. Hence, all schools (Public, Private, Faith-based and Community) shall remain closed until the health authorities deem it safe to reopen and begin physical/on-campus activities,” the MOE said.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Sonii has commended schools for continually ensuring that some curriculum activities continue through distance learning or online.
But the Ministry has frowned on schools that are asking students to pick up lessons from campuses. MOE claims that these students are breaching the social distancing rules, which pose health risk when they go on campus; therefore the Ministry placed a ban on the physical collection of instructional materials by students.
In other countries, there are plans for students at the terminal levels and final year university students to resume academic activities soon.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently announced that most governments across the world had set dates to reopen schools with a “phased approach that places priority on health, safety and remedial learning.”
The revelation was made after an online meeting held on April 29. UNESCO says 71 countries have already announced when schools will reopen.
At that time, 12 countries had reopened schools. 52 have set the date for reopening during this academic year and seven plan to reopen in the next one. The majority of countries – 128 – have not announced any dates yet, UNESCO said.
With the MOE having no plan to reopen school soon, the fate of thousands of Liberian students remains in limbo as COVID-19 disrupts every sector.