On Friday, October 5, 2019, teachers across the country witnessed a milestone celebration of the World Teachers Day (WTD). The event was hosted in Ganta City by Nimba County Branch of the National Teachers’ Association of Liberia (NTAL), with support from the NTAL headquarters and its president, Mrs. Mary W.M. Nyumah, a release has said.
NTAL said instead of government outsourcing public schools, it should stop the process. Rather, it should widen the tax net and introduce a robust leakage-free tax collection system.
The occasion, according to the release, was also graced by the NTAL National Vice President of the North Central Region, James S.K. Miller, as well as the District presidents and executives from all over Nimba County.
Of notable importance was the presence of the County Education Officer (CEO) Moses S. Dologbay and an array of District Education Officers (DEOs) in the county.
“This is because the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the International Labor Organization (ILO) set a day aside to celebrate teachers worldwide, who struggle on a daily basis to produce useful and enlightened productive citizens, despite the low remuneration and public recognition teachers continue to receive nationwide,” the release said.
Despite the declining status of the teaching profession in Liberia and many parts of the world, the NTAL said it mobilized teachers, many of the support staffs, students, representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) and parents, who identified with teachers in recognizing the important role they play in national development.
The WTD, which was held at the J.W. Pearson High School Auditorium in Nimba County, had as its theme, “Young Teachers: The Future of the Teaching Profession.”
For the NTAL, it called for a halt to the privatization and commercialization of public schools.
The effort by the teachers, the release said, is in total conformity with the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development, as enunciated in the manifesto of the government.
The teachers said going along with this policy of privatization and commercialization of “our public schools will be a serious betrayal of the voting public.”
“Just take a look at what is happening in other countries, where their governments have declared education as a public good and, therefore, free and with equal access by all citizens,” according to the release.
They continued: “Take a look at our next-door neighbor, Sierra Leone, who by closing the leakages in revenue collection has almost tripled revenue, sufficient to provide free quality education for all school-going children from pre-primary to senior secondary school.”
“In addition, the government is providing all core textbooks, teaching and learning materials, free cost. The school feeding program has been expanded to nearly all districts. Teachers, who have taught continuously for ten years, will have three of their biological children educated at the university level in Sierra Leone.”
Quite recently, the release said, 50 new school buses have been procured and distributed to all the districts throughout Sierra Leone, with an additional 50 more to be procured.
“Instead of outsourcing our public schools to profit-making providers, let the government widen the tax net, introduce a robust leakage-free tax collection system, judiciously spend public funds and rigidly enforce anti-corruption laws,” the NTAL said in a release.
Other exciting moments of the World Teachers’ Day celebration included the recognition and long service awards given to 25 teachers for “meritorious service”; and an emotional address by the representative of some of the young teachers, represented by Mrs. Alfreda G.S. Choloplay.
According to the release, one of the eye-opening aspect of the event that left everyone with sufficient food for thought was Emmanuel Fatoma’s address, a retired senior coordinator for Education International, Africa Region, who lauded the efforts of teachers and education workers.
Fatoma recounted how teachers are often moved to tears when their students fail and on the other hand, how they feel exhilarated when the same student performs well in public examinations.
He then cautioned that those policymakers, who are making excuses about the high cost of building the human capital, should try ignorance as an alternative.