Protesting students from one of the public schools here, G.W. Gibson High School located in the heart of Monrovia Tuesday, October 15, engaged their counterparts from a Church-run Seventh Day Adventist High School (SDA) on Camp Johnson Road similarly in the city center in a fistfight in demand of public school teachers, boycotting classes over salary delay.
Students from both schools engaged one another in a stone-throwing battle on Capitol By-pass thereby, creating panic among peaceful members of the public, who were going about their normal businesses.The protesting public school students had gone on their campus to write test for the first marking period before being informed there was no test due to go-slow by their teachers in demand of two months’ salaries.
The students also engaged riot police in a standoff but the police responded with tear gas to disperse the crowd who had converged at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, temporary office of President George Manneh Weah. Speaking to this paper, one of the protesting students, Miss Victoria Jackson said it is unfair their colleagues from private schools are having regular classes, while they from government schools are not having lessons because of boycott by teachers in demand of salary when in fact, whether public or private school students, their common goal is to make Liberia better.
“We voted for President Weah with the thought that he has vision for this country, but his action clearly demonstrates that he doesn’t have Liberia at heart”, one protesting students remarked.According to her, their decision to violently engage private schools which led to fistfight was predicated upon an alleged comment by a police officer, who told them to go and disrupt private schools where public officials’ children attend in order to draw government’s attention.
Another aggrieved student, Abraham Cooper said it is unfortunate that President Weah could dish out LRD5,000 each to wayward people in the streets commonly called ‘Zogoes’ here while there are delays in paying people, who are impacting knowledge into the country’s future leaders.He wondered how could President Weah claims to love Liberia, but yet see the people suffer under his watch with the economy going from bad to worse.
He vowed they would continue to protest in making sure all public school teachers are paid.The protesting students chanted, “If you can pay zogos, then you can’t pay teachers.”Declining revenue streams and ineffective fiscal policies coupled with global financial pressures are impacting the Weah Administration’s ability to address pressing economic conditions, leaving the entire citizenry increasingly restless. By Lewis S. Teh–Editing by Jonathan Browne