With just three weeks to the end of this year’s academic calendar, many public schools in Bong County are reportedly not certain as to whether they would resume classes after the break, because there are reports of a diminished number of trained teachers.
Already some of the public schools have closed down primarily due to shortage of trained teachers in the schools.
An investigation conducted by the Daily Observer on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, established that in the Suakoko and Sanoyea School Districts, the Raymond Town, Waymue and Piata Public Schools have closed down due to the lack of teachers.
Wallee Brown, 61, principal and registrar, as well as a classroom teacher providing instruction from the nursery thru the sixth grade classes at the Piata Public School, told the Daily Observer that he closed down the school because of the absence of teachers.
Mr. Brown: The government, in 2018, deleted the names of three teachers from the payroll, because it said the teachers were not qualified, so I am the only one teaching all the subjects.
“The school was built by the townspeople in 1973 to cater to the educational needs of school-age children in the community with a population of 3,600 inhabitants” Mr. Brown disclosed.
Mr. Julius Tokpa, Principal of the Raymond Town Public School in Suakoko District said his school has also closed as the result of limited classroom teachers to meet the teaching needs of the pupils.
“We have four government employed teachers in the school with two volunteer teachers. For the volunteer teachers, I do not have control over them because they are not on government payroll” Mr. Tokpa said.
“One of the factors that dispirited the children to leave school is mainly the irregularity of our teachers in class. Students come to class but there is no teacher, so the students will not be encouraged to come the next day” Mr. Tokpa said.
He said the Raymond Town Public School was built by the African Development Foundation (ADF) in collaboration with the community in 2010, aimed at strengthening government’s quest in providing education to its citizens.
He said since then the school has been challenged by the lack of assigned teachers, adding, some of our colleagues do not want to take assignment in the interior, probably because they may be out of touch or they will only be restricted to teaching to one school, unlike in the urban areas.
Some parents who spoke to the Observer blamed the closure of the schools to teachers’ inability to be regular in school, noting that, “if our children go to the school today for example, and they did not see teacher in their class, the next day they will not be encouraged to go.”
“The problem has been significantly compounded by the Ministry of Education. It was announced over and over the discovery of so-called ‘ghost’ or ‘phantom’ teachers in schools who receive salaries but are non-existent. This exercise is yet to take place,” one parent said in a loud voice.
When contacted via mobile phone June 18, the District Education Officer for Sanoyea, Mr. Silas Juakollie, admitted to the premature closure of the schools but squarely blamed it on parents for not sending their children to school.
“The parents do not want to send their children to school. The teacher will go to school but the students are not in class. More importantly, the parents prefer sending their children to the traditional Poro or Sande school rather than the academic school,” Mr. Juakollie added.
The DEO said the shutting down of these schools before the end of the regular school year is due to several factors ranging from teachers’ unwillingness to take assignment in the interior and government’s failure to provide resettlement to teachers who want to venture into the interior.
“The premature closures are not only unique to these schools but several schools in the district have been closed down, either because there are no teachers, or parents fail to send their children to school,” the DEO explained.
“Despite the current situation of unpaid teachers, DEO Juakollie agrees there is a need for the recruitment of more teachers, adding, in the interior of the country, some schools with 300 or more students have only two to three teachers. This is unacceptable and it is in fact responsible for the falling standards in our educational system.
It can be recalled this paper also reported the desertion of the Waymue Public School in Sanoyea District but the DEO said his administration is working out modalities for the re-opening of the school for academic 2019/2020 school year.