Since information began emerging about the closure of schools on July 31 to properly plan the academic calendar of Liberia, various views have sparked up, most of them opposing the decision by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to close schools.
Parents who are so used to paying huge tuition and flexible fees for their children to get promotion are of the view that, because they have paid prodigious amount of money for their children they should get promotion if MOE’s decision should stand.
Teachers, mainly those of private and mission schools are afraid that their 10-month contract will be terminated as a result of the decision to close schools, thus denying them of their salaries that will not be retroactively paid in case school closes on the date set.
Lawmakers too are of the view that the decision by the MOE would be counterproductive to the future of the students and therefore Minister George Werner should withdraw the decision to continue the “messy” educational system.
Majority of the students (those for whom the decision is taken) because they have set their minds at getting promotion after paying all their “flexibility” fees, view the decision as detrimental to them and therefore have been engaged in street protests in recent times, and even blocking the convoy of the President recently.
Prior to the emerging opposing views, newly appointed Education Minister Werner had stated at a program marking the resumption of Peace Corps’ activities in Liberia after Ebola that, “Liberia’s status quo is doomed and there’s a need for Education revolution.”
The question: Is the Minister really wrong to have come out with the decision of closing schools to revise the system? The answer is absolutely NO.
While I may partly blame the Minister for not being definite to state and sufficiently propagate those essential things, the government through the MOE will be doing during the period of compulsory closing, it is a must that the educational system be revised to better help students.
There is no doubt that nowadays Liberian students take education only as a formality and not a necessity, since “contact” is a prerequisite to getting a job and not qualification and competence.
Evidence is the poor reading and speaking skills to incomprehensible writings filled with grammatical errors.
You will note that most teachers today are the same high school dropouts who are passing onto students the same shortcomings that led them to fail, and that Education Officers across the country have all their families, relatives and friends on payroll while those who deserve salaries are not getting them.
Deputy Minister Aagon Tingban recently said in Grand Bassa County during a meeting, “I lecture at the University of Liberia and Cuttington University Graduate Programs, and when you see the performances of some of the candidates, you wonder how they got to the place. Do not get me wrong, some of them are good, but the majority of them make you to wonder how they got there.”
There is no doubt in the Minister’s comment as majority of our lawmakers and senators in the Legislature are in such a category as evidenced by their articulations and reasoning. The same goes with most of our deputy and assistant ministers, and directors in Government, and most of them claim to be university graduates or Master’s degree holders.
I don’t affiliate with any political group, but I must express my gratitude to Mr. Simeon Freeman of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC), who said it was a good decision for the MOE to close and revise the system supported.
Mr. Freeman, of all his critical analyses about the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration, expressed the need for the total overhaul of the Education System, noting that if it causes Liberians to lose six months of academic activities, it will go well with the country since the desired objective is making Liberian education vibrant.
Let me encourage Education Minister Werner and his Deputy Tingban to contemplate submitting a bill to the Legislature on making cheating in any school and in any form a crime in the country.
Thanks to UNICEF and the Government for the new textbooks. Let it not only benefit public schools but also private and mission schools, considering that the majority of the student population is concentrated in private and mission schools.
Let the Ministry of Education revisit the accreditation of schools and try to stop most of the mushrooming schools established by churches and individuals from operating as they lack teachers and the necessary facilities.
Finally, the virus in primary and secondary schools is in fact highly concentrated in universities operating here. Let not the government forgets universities in its quest to revamp the system. As MOE has commenced, let us also hear what the dormant National Commission on
Higher Education is doing to revamp colleges and universities in Liberia.
In conclusion, revising Liberia’s educational system is a matter of must, not an issue to politicize.
About Joaquin Sendolo:
He is a Liberian with a Bachelor degree in Management and senior student studying Mass Communication at the University of Liberia. Joaquin Sendolo has a “C” Certificate in Primary Education and he taught for 10 years before transitioning to journalism. He currently reports for the Daily Observer and can be reached at: 0886 838 535. [email protected]