By Lincoln G. Peters
Bong County Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Education Prince Moye has ordered the Minister of Education Prof. D. Ansu Sonii and his team to place voluntary teachers on the payroll, warning that the minister would be summoned to face the Senate if he fails to do so.
Speaking in an interview with journalists recently at the Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Congo Town, Senator Moye urged the Ministry of Education to properly manage a US$3 million allocated for it and have voluntary teachers placed on payroll or risk being summoned and rejected by the Senate.
“Minister Sonii and your team, I do not want to see you guys coming [to] the Capitol Building again because we want you people to properly use the money that was given to make sure that teachers who are volunteering are included on the payroll,” said Senator Moye.
“The President Pro-Tempore made reference to that during the opening of our session and I hope you take cue,” Senator Moye noted.
Moye’s caution to Minister Sonii came when the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with the World Bank’s Improving Results In Secondary Education (IRISE) Project, certified 200 special female career guardians and psychosocial counselors at the Ministerial Complex in Congo Town.
The counselors will be placed in various public schools nationwide.
According to him, sometimes when lawmakers allot money to an institution that is in need, they come to realize that at the close of the budget period that particular fund is left.
Moye explained that this is the reason lawmakers do not allot to some agencies and ministries.
The Bong Senator further urged the Ministry of Education to be fast and utilize the additional US$3 million given to it and have all the voluntary teachers placed on payroll so that there can be enough teachers in various public schools across the country.
“Some of the institutions come to committees crying for additional budgetary allotment based on the programs they have initiated. However, they do not use those monies as requested, and when called to account for it, they can’t defend anything,” Senator Moye complained.
“Education being one of those that are very important to our country, we made a case and took a decision,” Moye said, detailing that the Liberian Senate and the Legislature in general, decided to give the Ministry of Education additional US$3 million to close a certain gap.
Talking about the IRISE Project, Senator Moye described it as a game-changer, adding that it’s the first of its kind in the history of Liberia.
“We will support this program to the fullest and make sure that this continues. Since I have been knowing myself this is the first time for such to happen in our educational sector,” said Senator Moye.
“I believe that with this, our girls will no longer drop out of school, teenage pregnancy and SGBV [sexual gender-based violence] against them will be mitigated,” Senator Moye said.
Earlier, the Mayor of Monrovia Mr. Jefferson T. Koijee delivered the keynote address in proxy of Liberia’s First Lady Madam Clar Marie Weah during the first graduation ceremony of the Ministry of Education, World Bank’s Improving Result in Secondary Education Project, saying the government is reconstructing an inclusive new Liberia under President George Manneh Weah’s administration.
According to Koijee, the government is concerned about the solution of every fabric of the society instead of its condition.
Koijee noted that years ago the educational sector of Liberia was described as a mess, but today, the government is not interested in the condition of the sector, but it places more focus on the solution.
“Way back, the educational sector of Liberia was [described] as a mess. We do not want to be told about the condition of the sector, we want to be informed about the solution and that is what President Weah is doing, that today, 200 females are graduating to provide guidance for our female children in various public schools,” said Mayor Koijee.
He said they are rebuilding a new Liberia where all can make decisions and form part of the rebuilding process of the country by providing jobs and other opportunities for Liberians to change their respective environments.
Addressing the graduates, Mayor Koijee pleaded with them to not just see themselves as salary-waiting persons, but as people who are called to duty that will cause them to leave their comfort zones and be taken into various counties to help bring up the female children in a decent manner.
“People call you guardian counselors but at this point, I curved your indigence to call you “guardian angel,” not because you are beautiful, [but] because you are about to play a role of confidence-sharing mother,” said Mr. Koijee.
“However, with that, I will like to re-emphasize your role, responsibility and task along with government’s effort to inspire you to do more,” Mayor Koijee noted.
He urged the graduates to live a life of example wherever they will be assigned because before children can trust them, they have to make that difference.
Koijee also recommended that there be a special award for the female counselors at the end of every semester, to be called the “President’s Award,” along with a bonus to help inspire them to do more in order to protect the country’s next generation.
For his part, Prof. D. Ansu Sonii, Minister of Education, expressed excitement over the project and informed the graduates that he has done all the paper – work to have them included on the payroll immediately to help save the school – going females.
“You will be deployed in various public schools next year and you will be placed on payroll. You will be sent on an internship for two months since the school year has already ended,” Minister Sonii disclosed.
He revealed that the internship will be in Montserrado, Bomi, Grand Bassa, and Margibi counties.
Additionally, Minister Sonii said the final selection will come as a result of their internship.
“We are testing this to see and if it does work, we will make it a policy for all schools including the private schools,” Minister Sonii noted.
Meanwhile, he said children today are seriously different and they need physical engagement, adding that he has informed all principals and county education officers (CEOs) about the female counselors’ deployment on their various school campuses.