-As Public Schools Still Run Afternoon Sessions
By Esau J. Farr
It seems that the mandate from the Ministry of Education for schools to begin running from 8:00AM to 3:00PM daily was just another policy statement or news of the day, but not meant to be taken seriously at all or perhaps did not fall on fertile ground.
Pieces of evidence are becoming to emerge in less than a month since the opening of the Academic Year 2018/2019 that school authorities both in the Public and Private Sectors are giving blind eyes and deaf ears to mandate given by the education house of the country to operate from 8:00Am to 3:00PM daily.
A careful observation and investigation conducted by this paper has revealed that many school administrators are not adhering to the mandate from Education Minister Ansu Sonii on the running time of school in Liberia as contained in the July 2018 release of the ministry for 2018/2019 school calendar of events.
From our investigations, many public schools in Montserrado, Bong and other counties are still running their regular Morning and Afternoon Sessions meaning, the 3:00PM time set by the Ministry of Education is being either violated or dishonored.
A student of the Nathaniel Varney Massaquoi Memorial High School (NVMSH) on the Kokoyah Road in Gbarnga in an interview with this paper confirmed report of the running of the two sessions of the school (AM and PM).
“Yes ooo, we still have the Afternoon Session running which myself I am a student of due to late registration,” Angie (not her real name) told The New Republic Newspaper.
A man who also spoke with this paper via mobile phone disclosed that he teaches in the Afternoon Session, but begged not to disclose his identity saying, “My brother, it is true the Minister said we should run the Morning Session from 8AM to 3PM, but let’s be fair here; do we have the buildings or classrooms to accommodate the increasing number of students…and the answer is obviously no. Not only that, but we will also have the issue of teachers’ constraints because some of the people you see coming to help in the afternoon can go and teach in other schools during the morning hours before coming to teach here; how do we get them here at the same time even if there are buildings and classrooms?” he lamented.
Another Private School administrator who spoke to this paper on anonymity for fear of being sought after said, his school was still studying the situation and see what the future holds for them.
Asked whether his school was going by the mandate given by MOE authorities, he responded: “No, for now, we are studying the situation and we will see what happens in the future. You know, we just opened and we have to see how situation will be maybe by Second Semester”.
All efforts to have the Director of Communications at the Ministry of Education, Maxim Bleetahn to speak on the matter did not materialize as his Orange number (0777212197) rang endlessly and repeatedly without answer and also failed to reply two text messages sent to him between 3:30Pm and 4:30Pm on Wednesday September 26, 2018.
The Ministry of Education is one of the many agencies of central government that has and continues to pronounce measures, mandate as well as make policy decisions but with little or no monitoring implementation of said policies or regulations.
Dating back during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, there was the pronouncement of reported ‘Free and compulsory Primary and Jr. High Education’ that was not realized even up to present.
Recently, the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the West African Examination Council (WAEC) announced ‘No graduation before results and no graduation without success in WAEC’ but the Ministry quickly took a ‘U-Turn’ and reconsidered its decision saying that the actions will take effect by 2021.
The situation left many confused and even lost appetite for taking WAEC or WASSEC since in fact it is not a pre-requisite to graduation from high school.
Again, according to the Ministry of Education’s Calendar of Events for Academic Year 2018/22019, all schools were mandated to open on September 3, 2018 something most schools including public schools felt short of.
Additionally, Jr. High School students in public schools were demanded and made to pay three thousand two hundred and sixty (LRD$3, 260) Liberian Dollars instead of students enrolling free of charge as released by authorities of the Ministry of Education.