Amidst COVID – 19 Pandemic
Amidst the continual spread of COVID-19 pandemic across Liberia, schooling has begun for 12th graders in preparation for the West African Secondary School Certificate Exams (WASSCE), which is expected in August this year.
Nearly all the secondary schools across the country have opened for 12th graders, where lessons have resumed, effective June 29, 2020. However, at some schools, there remain challenges to the full observance or implementation of the health protocols, including the lack sanitary materials for hand washing, provision of nose masks and even limited hand washing buckets.
“We have opened schools for the 12th graders as mandated by the government, but we are still waiting for supply from the government to effectively keep the health protocol in place,” said Principal Nya Vahn of Pearson Extension School in Ganta.
“We compel every student to come with a nose mask before sitting in class, but we do not have enough powder soap, chlora and hand washing buckets,” he said.
The closure of schools leaves nearly all the school campuses overgrown with grass and even it appears as though some school administrations do not have requisite funding to procure stationery and other needed materials to enhance smooth academic activity.
“We do not even have chalk and stationery supplies yet and we are still waiting for the government to send in those items. Notwithstanding, we are keeping the school running with the little still in stock,” said one Rueben Langar, a teacher in one of the public schools around Ganta.
On Monday, June 29, 2020 the District Education Officer for Bain-Garr, Abel Legaye, told the Daily Observer that schools were opened, but they are yet to receive supplies from the central authority, the Ministry of Education.
“Our supplies are coming, but schools are in session, managing the little resources we still have,” he said.
However, Nimba County Education Officer, Moses Dologbay said the MOE has alerted his office that UNICEF is expected to distribute sanitary supplies to all schools and the consignment for Nimba County is expected to arrive soon.
For the stationery and other school supplies, he said the MOE did remittances to all school principals via mobile money to purchase chalk and all necessary materials. He believes, therefore, that the issue of stationery is not an issue, except for those schools that did not receive any remittance from the MoE.
Mr. Dologbay also stated the school system of Nimba received about 125 hand washing buckets from Nimba District Representative, Jeremiah Koung, and there were some buckets left in stock from the 2014 Ebola crisis. These buckets, along with the ones donated, have been distributed across the county.
Many school administrators and their PTA counterparts have expressed concern about the collection of fees from students, where the money has to be sent to the Ministry of Education, before it can be remitted through mobile money to the same school that collected the fees.
They wonder why the government cannot ask the school principal to subtract the school’s share and the rest be sent to the central office.
“Instead of the government ordering us to subtract our share from the fees collected, they order us to send the money to the Ministry of Education before the share for the school is remitted,” said one of the principal, who did not want be named.
“We sometimes do not get our share from the ministry on time and, in some cases, we don’t receive it at all,” he added.