In what is clearly a contradiction of its own policy pronouncement towards the educational system here, government officials are caught in double standards attending graduation program of the Ricks Institute in Virginia,
outside Monrovia where many officials’ children are enrolled, including the Minister of Health Dr. Bernice Dahn. Dr. Dahn was visibly present at the graduation on Sunday, 18 October despite strict instructions to schools
not to graduate 12th graders, pending the annual exams administered by the West African Examination Council or WAEC. Had this been in another country, Dr. Dahn should forget being a minister of health after aiding an
individual to defy the government’s policy by her presence at such occasion.
But Liberia being what it is, Dr. Dahn will be well seated at her desk on Monday morning as if she had never aided or abided the defiance of the very government she serves. And President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will happily greet her at the next cabinet meeting too though. Minister Dahn has, however, defended that she attended the graduation ceremony not in her capacity as a government minister, clearly ignoring pronouncement from the Ministry of Education. When asked whether the graduation is not a violation of the government policy, she said this was up to the Ministry of Education to decide.
So in Dr. Dahn’s mind only she and other government officials like her money are too better to be wasted when many poor parents had to swallow the bitter pills to let their money go in vain when their wards were denied graduation.
Education Minister George Werner halted the 2014/2015 academic calendar abruptly to allow reforms executed in the sector with strict mandate to school administrators that 9th and 12th would have to write the annual
exams scheduled for 2016 before graduation. But here is Rick Institute, operated by the Liberia Baptists Missionary and Educational Convention, flagrantly violating this policy by graduating 49 Twelfth graders who had not written and passed the WAEC exams. This also brings into question as to whether the bible teaches religious leaders to disrespect authorities. When contacted by this paper Sunday, Liberia’s Information Minister, Lewis Brown, said he was not aware of the graduation at Ricks, but promised to gather details. Brown was one of the loud voices crying out to ensure that the government policy would have been straightly followed, denying
poor parents their investments. Speaking at the ceremony, the principal and chief administrative officer of Ricks, Rev. Olu Q. Menjay says he holds no apology for his action and congratulated the students, who according to him, performed excellently. The president of the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary and chair of the Christianity department at Mercer University based in the United States, Dr. Richard F. Wilson, who delivered the convocation address, also congratulated the graduates and reminded them this was just the beginning of their academic sojourn, urging them to keep pressing forward. Parents across the country were constrained to pay full tuition for academic 2014/2015 right after the end of Ebola, but their children received half semester instructions when schools were abruptly shut down by the government without refund.
By Bridgett Milton- Edited by Jonathan Browne