With less than three days before the resumption of academic activities across the country, many school authorities were complaining of lack of Ebola preventive supplies as well as instructional materials to enable them to fully carry on effective academic work.
Several public and private school principals are wondering how effectively they would be able to administer the school programs in the absence of those materials when the resumption of the school year is just around the corner.
Mr. Samuel N. Yini, principal of J. W Pearson Extension School (an annex to J. W. Pearson which is located in another community) in Ganta told this newspaper that since government announced the reopening of school, school supplies, including thermometers for checking temperatures, buckets for hand washing as well as instructional materials are yet to be delivered.
“Look around here. We have not yet received anything from the authorities. Maybe they are waiting for the last day before distributing them to the schools,” he said.
Most of the campuses still remain dirty and some of the school facilities including benches, hand pumps are dilapidated owing to the long closure of schools in the wake of the Ebola epidemic.
“As you may be aware, we were told not to take any money from the students; so it is very difficult for us to obtain some of these supplies by ourselves,” he explained.
There is little zeal among the parents and even school authorities about school reopening, owing to what many considered as hardship and the lack of time to adequately prepare their children for school.
Some private and mission schools are registering students on the condition of what is considered as “pre-registration” (registration without fees) giving the parents time to begin making payments.
Private and mission school fees have gone up exceedingly in order to get better wages for their teachers commensurate with teachers on government salaries, which have been substantially raised. Increased tuition is likely to keep many parents from sending their children to school.
“There are few government schools that cannot accommodate all the students at this given time of school opening, said a single mother of six. “How can we get our children into school now?” she asked.
In order to convince parents to send their children to school, a certain private school in Saclepea is calling on parents to register their children free of charge, giving the parents up to March ending before beginning payment.
Rev. David Boayue, a proprietor of NAWOR and spokesperson of all private and mission schools, said due to the Ebola outbreak, most of the private and mission schools are not financially capacitated to get everything required for Ebola prevention.
“Despite all of these constraints,” he said, “we are doing everything possible to run our schools and to put all Ebola prevention measures in place, but we need help from the government, because we are not collecting fees now due to numerous complaints from parents.”
However, the District Education Officer of Ganta, Mr. Lynor Martol, had said that owing to the huge population of Ganta, the government is considering opening many public and community schools at several localities as soon as possible.
But whether these new public and community schools will be adequately supplied and staffed before lessons begin is yet to be established.
Most of the government public schools across Nimba don’t have enough manpower, not even to speak of some public schools in the remote parts of Nimba, where only one or two government paid teachers are available, most of them volunteers.
“We are wondering how this school year will be like, because we have two government paid teachers in our school, with an enrollment of over 600. The rest of the teachers are not on payroll; for this reason they come to school as they wish,” said Alex Kpan, Principal of Gblarlay Public School in Buu–Yao.
“The children are willing to come to school, but if they can’t find someone to teach them, they will become discouraged and drop out, he added.