Students Protest in Solidarity with ‘Unpaid’ Teachers

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Hundreds of students took to the streets of Monrovia, calling on Government of Liberia to pay their teachers, who have abandoned classes due to unpaid salary arrears.

— Several hospitalized due to injuries, police teargas

With twenty moths in the George Weah-led administration, Monrovia has witnessed series of unprecedented protests, some of which have been chaotic, ending in violence and injury.

Hundreds of students from 24 schools within the jurisdiction of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) gathered on Tuesday, October 15, 2019, requesting the Weah-led administration to pay their teachers, who the students claimed were not attending classes because government reportedly owes them for three months in salary arrears.

The students’ demonstration, which began peacefully, turned violent when the President’s convoy came, and the protesters demanded that the President should get down from his convoy and address their concerns, but the security did not allow the President to adhere to students’ request. It was shortly afterward, when some of the protesting students turned violent, that officers of the Liberia National Police responded with teargas.

The students were chanting: “You can pay Zogos, but you can’t pay teachers! So pay our teachers; we want to learn!”

At that juncture, the LNP officers started firing teargas among the protesting students, while other officers began beating on some of students, demanding that they leave the streets. But the recalcitrant students then responded by throwing stones at the police.

The exchanges between the protesting students and the LNP turned tense, thus leading to several of the students sustaining injuries. Some fell unconscious, eyewitnesses told the Daily Observer. The police, according to other accounts, were seen violently spraying teargas in the faces of the students at close range.

Protesting students move a female students who fell unconscious to a safe area.

As the chaos increased, some of the parents, who became terrified by the actions of the LNP, opened up, wailing loudly when they saw unconscious students being rushed to the SDA Cooper Hospital in Sinkor for emergency treatment.

In the free-for-all situation that characterized the protest, some of the LNP turned their anger against journalists, who were covering the protest, as the officers reportedly destroyed several gadgets including cameras, thus preventing reporters from photographing the officers who were beating and throwing teargas at the protesting students.

Kaba Sekou, a student representative from William V. S. Tubman High School, told Education Minister, Ansu D. Sonii, “that the police attack on the peaceful students was immature, and it violated the students’ constitutional rights to freely assemble and express their concerns to the government, specifically when there was no teacher to teach them.

Sekou said it is unfortunate to have the MCSS Superintendent telling Minister Sonii that the students, who gathered in the streets, were misled by their instructors.

He added, “We were not misled as the MCSS Superintendent had informed Minister Sonii, because we only got in the streets to seek redress in our quest for education. But the government through it police officers, attacked the students, who are being denied good education. Some of the teachers have downed their chalks, because they complained that the government has refused to pay them their three months’ salaries.”

Wayah W. Kollie, one the protesters, said they got in the streets to demand the government to pay their teachers, “but the police violently attacked us and, as such, they hurt a few students.”

The student protest drew a few words of advice from 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate, Leymah Gbowee, to posted on Facebook, saying, “No amount of force can solve any problem.”

She advised the government to “pay civil servants on time, cut out wasteful spending and unnecessary travels. Focus on the people’s needs, and you won’t have to consistently chase protesters,” she said.

Education Minister

In the aftermath of the protest, Education Minister Sonii hurriedly arranged an emergency meeting with the disgruntled students, informing them that the government was working to ensure that the teachers return to classes on Monday, October 21, 2019. By this time, the Minister pleaded, the teachers would have been paid their salary arrears.

He said the government had already paid some of the teachers for the month of August, but was finding a bit difficult to pay everyone of them, because they do not have both United States Dollar and Liberian Dollars bank accounts.

Sonii however said that government would pay all the teachers’ money in Liberians dollars before Monday, to enable the students write their exams.

Finance Ministry 

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), in a late afternoon statement, said the government has already paid the salaries of 15,000 non-MCSS teachers for the month of August, and is now processing their September pay cheques.

The statement said that about 2,000 non-MCSS teachers, who have problem with opening their banks’ accounts, are getting their August pay through arrangements between MFDP and the Ministry of Education.

However, the MFDP said 900 MCSS teachers were paid fully for August on Monday, October 14, 2019, but they received only Liberian dollars component of their pay chques.

The release added, “About 200 MCSS teachers who are paid in both the USD and Liberian Dollars, have received their 20 percent Liberian Dollar portions, but the bank in which they have their accounts has not yet posted the 80 percent to their USD accounts.”

“The Ministry of Finance wants to inform the public that government is doing its best to pay teachers, health workers and all civil servants on time,” the release said.

Monrovia Protests

It can be recalled that since the Weah-led government took office about one year, six months ago, Liberia has witnessed protests over recurrent issues of poor justice system, abuse of power and increase in corruption, characterized by poor governance system.

Among the series of protests that Monrovia has witnessed, include the first major street protests involving the Campaigners and Victims for Justice, calling for the establishment of war and economic crimes court; the Bring Our Money Back protest; the District #13 electoral violence; marketers in the Goba-chop market, who called for the removal of garbage from their selling areas; the historic June 7 protest; the family of late student Odell Sherman demanding justice; the District #15 electoral violence, Women of Liberia, who called for the protection of their rights; riot at Liberty Party Headquarters; riot at the National Election Commission (NEC) that brought Jestina Taylor in the picture; the health workers protest; the pregnant women protest in Duport Road as a result of the health workers’ protest; the protest at Catholic Hospital to release Jestina Taylor; as well as the one that encountered the recent closure and subsequent looting of Roots FM.

19 COMMENTS

  1. It seem like people have to protest in Liberia nowadays before the government can get things done correctly. Is a wonder why they are not putting blame on the Henry Costa show this time around since infact, in their rightful minds,the Costa station was responsible for inciting violence. They have failed to understand their wrong policies and until they start doing the right things as madan Gbowee said, the protest will never stop,especially when results are positives from some of these protest. So the administration of president Weah need to listen to the people instead of using force to subdue the angry students that simply came out in solidarity support for their teachers. What a missed opportunity if the president had just stop for 45 minutes to address the students by reassurance them that, their concerns are paramount to him and even thank them for siding with their teachers. Their teachers salaries are being process and things will improve soon to enable government paid teachers and all civil servants on time, if possible, in time. What was wrong for doing this to calm things down? Leadership, leadership, and leadership is what missing thus leading to all these unnecessary protest and is leaving negatives results on the side of the administration.

  2. Why would the president of this nation not get down from his car to listen to the students’ concern? Mr. President, what example are you setting for the future leaders of this country? You were an opposition to the previous government with all the so called best remedies to these seem kinds of predicaments it faced. Why is it that your right remedies are not being implemented now? Once you are not sitting under the sun feeling the heat you won’t know the intensity of the heat.
    Be careful my man because every beginning has an end.

  3. Thankfully, death didn’t result, but, students don’t “block a presidential convoy”! Worldwide, it’s seen by security details as a diversionary tactic to ambush their VIP. Not to talk of ambushes of such types are at the top of all VIP motorcade training programs and manuals. The confrontation also exposed a habit of elites of exploiting students to confront governments just like warlords use kids as child soldiers. So, some professors and warlords come from the same Machiavellian moral cesspool of manipulating other people’s children. What revolting about especially those educated in foreign countries is that they know such protests about matters pertaining to learning should be carried out within the parameters of the affected institutions, and not as a willful ploy to provoke anticipated security response for anti-government propaganda.

    The puppeteers of students share a lion share of the blame, however, national information apparatuses also have failed in educating a restive public. For if parents were consistently informed that EJS bequeathed a bleeding economy now made worse by business-killing protests, which has made it impossible for government to temporarily meet its payroll, they wouldn’t have allowed children to put their lives and that of GMW at risk. Moreover, those apparatuses should’ve apprised the nation regularly of the danger to public security posed by the relentless threat to GMW and the government by ex-rebel Representative Kolubah and agitator Costa. Needless to say, after a quarter-million dead, we should learn how to effectively respond to smoke detectors’ alarms before flames engulf the country again. And if we think that only Liberians are deliberately driving this destabilizing runaway truck, then a peek in the past of these security distress-specific provocations should be insightful and instructive to say the least.

    • If Liberians want to get rid of their President, no amount of EPS protection can save Weah. Remember Samuel Doe, and Tolbert? Liberians love to repeat history so anything could happen. It’s very sad that you have a President who doesn’t know how to lead and people are getting desperate. Something has to give eventually. If that convoy had plowed through those kids, that would have been the end of Weah. Fortunately the EPS acted with restraint.

    • And we keep warning you and elks, Mr. Baghdad Moses, that the unjustified death of any protesters and on account of one of these reckless ill-advised actions of your pols, will be the beginning of the end. The students have the right to express solidarity with their teachers and any marginalized or disenchanted sector of society at all times whether in writings, arts, dramas or demonstrations. To forestall these occurrences all the ruling government has to do is the right thing. Nothing more, nothing less. Is that too much to ask, or expect? That happens to be the norm in those other societies you referenced in your claptrap and reason why such extreme measures are rare in those societies. Know that for future reference, Mr. Self-seeking Spinner!

  4. I made a comment on an issue relevant to my lifelong career in multiple countries, and am hoping that anyone responding will use intelligence (instead of accusations) to debunk it. Probably among English Speaking West Africans, we Liberians are the best in self-expression, so, let’s stop acting like some silly jackasses.

  5. This essay recapitulates all the signs of a failed state. And as things appear, there is no turning back as the situation will deteriorate even further.

    Students are complaining that teachers have not taken pay for months, but yet the president is living an extravagant lifestyle. In the midst of the mess, he is chartering private jets and flying all over the world at the expense of the taxpayers. What benefits have these trips reaped for Liberia? Nothing.

    The country is fragile!

  6. Well, this is what happens when you elect someone who did all he could, supported his party and partisan to match all the time during past gov’t. so did CDC.

    that was the only way CDC would express their regret and make the world to know their problem even carrying cascades on their heads. do you expect your children to have different behavior when you trained them to have the set way of Life like you have? IMPOSSIBLE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    now they are paying for it, the bigger one may come if weah forget to know who he is, who voted him to the seat, how they are suffering, stop travelling to merry-make all the time when his house is starving, and kids can’t go to school.

    remember I am not the one who saying this but God himself says
    II Tim. 5:8, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever”.

    that is why many were saying no need to celebrate Liberia’s birthday or Independence day when the Leader who opened his own church is worst than an unbeliever. that money would have been use for paying the teachers till December 2019, taking care of health cares in govt hospitals, and many other things that will help Liberians instead of a few merry making.

    Liberians are in the weah Equation period. the equation is :

    President Weah = Increase in ( poverty + bad Living condition of Liberians + corrupt and unqualified govt officials + mass demonstrations + unnecessary Travels and spending + threatening citizens who voted him to power ) + ( leasing personal Jet + building mansion for himself in few months) >( – 6 + 2 = – 4 ) = worse-than-an-unbeliever President

    wooooooooo, what an equation.

    until God help us and change the Equation around, we are heading for doom Liberia again, just as an unbeliever to God.

    may God save Mama Liberia

    • It’s good for Liberians – they elected an idiot to be their president. They have few more years to deal with the pain. Next time, their dumbasses will be careful when they vote.

  7. I was in Liberia for exactly 90 days, July 14 until October 14. While in Liberia, I visited a school in the greater Monrovia area. The female principal and her assistant were kind. They permitted me to observe a teacher. The classroom was overpacked. The school’s population is beyond rediculous. There are insufficient textbooks, no running water and a litany of deplorable issues. I counted ten students who stood up because they didn’t have a desk. There would have been more students standing up in that particular classroom had there not been other students doubling up in one desk. The teacher wrote notes on the chalkboard, but some students bothered not to copy the notes.

    My Concern………
    The issue of not being paid (harmonization) is affecting a lot of people. When students show solidarity with teachers like that, it boggles my mind.

    • “Boggles your mind?” That’s it? Those deplorable classroom conditions simply “boggled you mind,” and in a single paragraph reaction? Whereas you are a certified troll around here, often up in arms and very verbose about whatever the beef with opposition elements in your usual useless pandering vilification? Hopefully your solicitation trip will land you whichever the portfolio of choice, and let’s see what difference you too will make. “Same difference” in that vain, and as far as the old adage regarding birds of the same plumage goes, would be our estimation. Good luck!

  8. Yes indeed, Pete. When I saw the condition of the classroom I visited and its students, I was unsettled.

    Now, what else could I do? What would you have done?

    Ministers of government institutions are usually provided with automobiles. The lawmakers are usually provided with automobiles. Members of the judiciary are usually provided with automobiles. Finally, middle-level government employees are also provided with automobiles. If it is good for the middle to upper-level people in our poor society to be given such incentives, it makes sense for our youth to be considered. Because of the fact that our schools are not properly cared for, I strongly believe that an irreparable harm to the future of our youth is being done. You and I and hundreds of educated diaspora Liberians have a responsibility to help improve our educational system. That’s something to understand Pete. Your petty shots are ignoble.

    Pete, you have an insatiable instinct of condemnation in your DNA. Besides, you don’t seem to understand certain things I write. Once you spot my moniker, you become intractable, flippant and fully charged to attack me. Come to yourself.

    In the simplest of terms, please be informed that I was unhappy with a lot of things in Liberia during my 3-month visit. That’s precisely why I was unpleased with the operation of our schools. I have plans to return. God willing I shall return. I’d like to farm. The regular consumables (cassava, palmnuts, egg plants, etc.) that I saw at our markets were in short supply. That should change. We shouldn’t continue to shout bloody murder every blessed day about this and that without doing something to change or improve the quality of our people’s lives.

    Hope that pleases you buddy.

    • No, sir, I cannot be a “buddy” to one who is in bed with a tyrant, a role you mimic here very well even if not yet full fledged. And the very ambition you harbor about going back home is what some of us harbor likewise, if only the environment were accommodating, in terms of safety, good schools, healthcare system, good roads and general quietude in the darn place. Conversely, how could any sane person pack up their family and move into such a jacked up place? A place where any citizen can get killed and the darn police does zilch about it. A place where citizens can get killed by government officials and the remedy or consolation to the family is bag of rice plus $US 500. A place where teenagers get raped or murdered, citizens get missing and the police great it like nothing has happened. I guess only people like you, over and above those dangling evils could live under those uncertainties and for whatever the allurement. As for us, we believe the situation could be better and not only for a few untouchables, but for the whole of society. That is why we continue to decry those despicable manmade occurrences every time we see or hear of one. Need I say more? Thank you.

  9. all that you have narrated, Mr.Peter gboyo, about our country is true. this is the country where any and all bad things happen, but this is where we call home. Some of us dont have the luxury of leaving this place for greener pasture, some of us dont have families/friends in the diaspora to send us a bit of cash now and then and some of us, despite all the ills this country has to offer, is still our country and we love it matter what happens. So I guess we want to see the best of our country,we want to see her restored to her self again and there is no doubt in our minds and our spirits that She will rise again.

    Mr. Hney, hope your dream about harvesting comes to pass and I hope to be able to purchase from you. I look forward to the day when you will come again.

  10. Pete,
    Despite your refusal to be considered a buddy, you’re one, you turkey. A presidential pardon by Trump (maybe he’s your bossom buddy too) will occur next month. Since I am known for gentility, I will consider it a will of God to pardon you.

    Here I am trying my utmost to fix you up as a mainstream person, and instead of you thanking me, you’re shamefully hiding behind a woman’s skirt by saying, “no sir”. You take a man out of the bush, but he refuses to get the bush out of himself. What a guy?

    You harbor an ambition to go home. That’s how I feel. How can I be different? You know in your guts you want to go home. Fess up! When you get there, keep your activities to yourself.

    To go back home as it is, you don’t have to take your wife with you. Go there. Do the feasibility study. Then come back to madam in the states and give her the rundown. My kids want to visit Liberia. It bothers me. But I will not take them there at this particular time. No one should do that!

    You seem to have lived out of the country for a long while. Irrespective of how you downgrade your country”s significance, it’s still yours, buddy. Let’s go back to put the country’s bits and pieces together.

  11. Hi Joe,
    I returned home (the US) a couple of days ago. Sorry I didn’t meet you. But I am sure it will be possible in the future.

    Play the DV lottery Don’t be doubtful. God works mysteriously.

  12. Uncle Hney,

    Hope your trip went well and I am sure that you had a very nice time. Indeed, God is a mystery and I am sure that He will work His wonders and we will meet, and I will get to hear the story of the letter “F” which, instead of telling your fan base what it means, you chose to just drop it surreptitiously.

    You promised to tell us the meaning and knowing you to be a man of your word, we wait patiently when you will chose to tell us.

  13. Thanks Joe,
    You sound like a good guy. Indeed, you’re a very good guy. I may return home soon. So when that happens, you will be notified.

    Don’t pay any attention to Gboyo. What Gboyo needs to understand is this….we all do not have to work directly in the government. But we can certainly improve the economy through agriculture or through other means. Furthermore, Pete’s assertion that I pander to a tyrant or that I am in bed with a tyrant is bogus.
    A guy like Gboyo will now address me as Mr. Hney. Anything short of that will cause him a rebuke. Gboyo, are you listening?

    During my 90-day visit, I didn’t see Weah.
    I met the city mayor, Jefferson Kojee. He is not Kru as Weah’s critics maintain. Kojee is from Loffa! I was invited to speak briefly at a lecture series that was sponsored by the LIPA. Of course, I spoke for a few minutes. That’s it!

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