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Govt. vows to support private schools

-as House summons MOE, MFDP, CSA 

The Government of Liberia has promised to support private schools in the country thru budgetary allotment to enable school administrators make full salary payment to teachers and other staff. The pronouncement followed ongoing strike by teachers from Catholic Schools in demand of eight months’ salary arrears, leaving students without instructions for the past two weeks. 

The Ministry of Education in Monrovia says during the peak of the deadly Ebola virus disease last year, which forced the closure of schools here, private institutions were unable to pay salary due to lack of funding, while public school teachers were receiving monthly salaries, something which prompts private schools authorities to increase tuition fees this year at the discomfort of parents, because of lack of support from national government.

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Speaking Thursday, March, 12, 2015 in a news conference at the Ministry of Education on 3rd Street, Sinkor Monrovia, the Minister of Education, Madam Etmonia Tarpeh, said, Government through the Education Ministry is requesting all private and faith-based institutions to summit personnel listing and payrolls, beginning March 12 to the 18th.

Minister Tarpeh warned that any private school or faith-based institution that fails to adhere to this directive will not receive any budgetary allotment from the government.

She said the commitment to support private and faith-based schools across the country is to buttress their efforts in impacting knowledge to Liberian youths as well as to respond to the plight of schools that are already appealing to the Government for assistance to enable them pay their teachers.

The Education boss noted that Government is concerned about private school teachers, who sat home without salary during the heat of the Ebola virus.

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Meanwhile, the plenary of the House of Representatives has summoned the Ministry of Education, Finance and Development Planning, and the Civil Service Agency, to explain why the nation’s education system is rapidly deteriorating.

Plenary reached the decision on Thursday, March 12th following a communication read on the floor from Grand Bassa District #4 Representative, J. Byron Browne, reporting the deplorable state of public schools in the country.

In his communication, Representative Browne said government-operated or public schools here are in bad shape, lacking requisite facilities as students were sitting on the floor in classroom, while teachers don’t have instructional materials to teach.

According to him, Grand Bassa County being the second county before Liberia gained independence 1847,  has only two public schools that were built during the regime of the late President William V.S. Tubman, but  are in deplorable condition.

He also said that during the reopening of schools in the country, the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Education promised to have provided Ebola preventive materials to school campuses before the resumption of classes, but the is far from reality.

The Bassa lawmaker narrated that in a class of 50 students; only 20 arm chairs are available, leaving the rest of the students to sit on their slappers in class, while teachers don’t have a place to sit to prepare their notes.

“The worse part of the matter is that teachers are not even on the payroll; as I speak to you now, the second government-run school in my district doesn’t even have teachers for three subjects like Math, Physics and Chemistry. What is the ministry doing about these problems?”, he asked. 

For his part, Montserrado County District #6 Representative, Edwin M. Snowe, said  it was prudent that plenary constitute itself into a committee and invite the Ministry of Education to explain about poor condition of public schools around the country.

Representative Snowe pointed out that the Ministry of Education is the only Ministry whose budget cannot be tempered with in terms of cut, saying, “I don’t think this continuous problem of the education system in the country is about money, as you may be aware that the Ministry of Education’s budget is the only ministry that comes from the Executive and remains untouched and besides, they received lots of funding from partners. So I join my friend from Grand Bassa Country that the Ministry of Education should be made to appear here and explain to this body their functions.”

However the lawmaker then moved that the Ministry of Education, Ministry Finance and Development Planning, and the Civil Service Agency should before plenary on March 17, 2015 at 10 a.m. to explain their plans for education system and the motion was seconded by Representative J. Byron Browne.     

By Lewis S. Teh & Ben P. Wesee                        

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