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3 schools in one building in Maryland

A small building in derelict condition with poor visibility is housing three different schools headed by three separate principals in Jacksonville Community of Harper, Maryland County, depicting a sign of a bad learning condition for pupils there.


Two of the schools’ principals say the building measured approximately 30 feet by 45 feet in dimension was a traditional home to people living with disabilities (Group of 77) during the era of late President William R. Tolbert who was overthrown in a 1980 military coup.

The building hosts East Harper Elementary and Junior High School established in 1958 as an annex to Tubman University with an enrollment of 833 pupils, 50 percent of whom are girls.

It operates morning session with different set of uniforms which are blue and white colors, while Sarah Elizabeth Gibson Nursery and Elementary School, established in 1970, uses green and white uniforms and operates the afternoon session. The other school session is run at night.

During an interview, a morning school principal Joanna Sackor’s facial expression could suggest that she was emotional when a team of journalists appeared, trading questions if local education authorities in the county were aware of the interview requested by reporters at the school.

Ms. Sackor, who has been a school teacher since 1999, highlighted several challenges to include lack of better sitting capacity for students, the absence of teaching materials and school supplies and poor visibility in the classrooms, among others.

“Inside the building is very dark with poor ventilation; lack of playground for the children, poor sitting capacity and lack of school supplies,” the principal of Sarah E. Gibson Nursery and Elementary School lamentes.

With a classroom size of approximately 10 feet by 16 feet, more than 50 students sit on the floor and on plaited mats purchased by parents for their children while in the classrooms.
It is also alleged that students are often coerced to pay L$5.00 as sitting fees before they sit on the mat in order to participate in class discussions .

Also in a statement, the principal of East Harper Elementary and Junior High School, Ambrose S. Nollen expressed similar concern that the learning environment was quite challenging to teachers, students and parents.
“The learning environment is a little bit challenging because it is not conducive for learning as there is noise, pollution due to close proximity to the main road,” he says.

Nollen, the size of the classroom as well as the lack of school supplies are issues of grave concern to them.He also reveals that a total enrollment of 188 students sit on the floor in the afternoon and are clustered from one classroom to another.

By Bridgett Milton–Edited by Winston W. Parley

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