‘Increase Textbooks, Not Class Time’

– Liberians React To MOE Reported Plan

By R Joyclyn Wea

The Ministry of Education (MOE) in its effort to address some of the challenges facing the Liberian educational Sector has increased instructional school time from 8am to 4pm.

Normally Liberian classes take 45 minutes, but the MOE is adding extra 10 minutes making it 55 minutes in an effort of what the ministry terms as increasing instructional time to boast students’ performance.

This latest decision by the government through the Ministry of Education (MOE) has met a lot of reactions from some parents, teachers and even students themselves have expressed diverse opinions in this regard.

While it is yet to be established if the ministry is in the right because government makes policy, but when those policies do not meet standards, the people reject them and government again is clothed with authority to go back and look at them and revise such policy if there is a need.

However, some citizens believe the more time instructors have they would be able to impact more into students which many disagreed with on grounds that there’s no textbooks for teachers to teach children or to keep children in school.

Some complained of the economic hardship this might have on the already poor society and that the problem does not align with the extension of study hours, but rather the lack of textbooks to match syllabus.

“We have curriculum that are not in line with the syllabus or even textbooks to be tough in various school across the country,” a Liberian who begged for anonymity said.

One of the private school teachers who begged not to be named for fear of being dismissed disagreed with government on the planned policy.

According to him, the transformation of Liberia’s school system relies on the textbooks and not educational school hours as claimed by the minister.

“I think the Education Minister needs to rethink his decision because there are no textbooks to even match the very syllabus prescribed by the ministry as compared to other nations around the world. And this is unfortunate we are going to increase instructional time and not working on the curriculum to be in line with WASSCE as well as equip our schools around here,” he emphasized.

For his part, Bishop P. Manaseh Conto, a Liberian clergyman also said the policy is good, but the ministry should weight both sides

Bishop Conto asserted that the idea is good but there are lots of things that should be addressed as this has the ability to increase economic hardship on Liberians particularly single parents saying “the minister’s decision sounds good, but I think this has lots of implication looking at the economic situation in the country and that of financial burden on many parents.”

He further emphasized that spending more hours in school order than equipping the schools will not solve the current problem adding “all we need now is to have more qualified teachers, laboratory ensuring schools are subsidized.”

Bishop Conto said “what the minister can do is to bring in enough modern books and get on the back of school administrators, proprietors that each senior high school has a well-furnished and up to date lab and reading room and those equipment should be bought by the ministry that private schools can go and buy them.”

He wants government creates the avenue and environment where they can be able to serve people well noting “if I put you in the class for 10hours without providing the needed materials it is a waste of time.”

“This is not in the interest of students and parents because some of us have to help our parents raise money to pay our fees,” Marthaline Kolleh, student of St. Matthew Lutheran High School in Paynesville.

Miss Kolleh explained the difficulties students undergo to get to school saying “students are lineup in the streets looking for car up to 9am without even a fitting transportation; let the minister put himself in the shoes of ordinary Liberians.”

“Right here in firestone you have children leaving from division 23 walking 2-3 hours to come to school due to lack of transportation and you keep such person in school up to 4pm. Even if you keep us in school without textbook for teachers to teach us or for us to read, this will only add up the situation at hand,” she added.

Also speaking to this paper, Alex Forkpah a father of two said such change in the educational system is not helpful particularly at this time.

According to him, parents are faced with numerous challenges couple with unemployment and single parenting during this would bring about disaster.

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