The Minister of Education Professor AnsuSonii says the country has a deficit of 5,000 teachers in the public sector.Prof. Sonii told the Senate’s full plenary on Thursday, 12 September that many of the schools here do not have enough teachers, while most of the teachers at the schools are volunteers.
He appeared before the Senate Thursday to explain why at this time of economic hardship here, schools here are imposing so much financial constraints upon parents, ranging from increased tuition and other fees to the sale of uniforms at high cost by various schools which they compel parents and guardians to purchase for their children.
Addressing these concerns, Minister Sonii explains that he heard about the hike in tuition and other related fees at both private and public schools.But he says he is not able to travel to all the schools around the country, claiming that no school should compel parents to buy uniform sold by the schools.Minister Sonii claims that it is optional for parents to buy uniforms sold by the schools, contrary to the complaints coming from both parents and students.
Montserrado County Sen. Abraham Darius Dillon, crafter of the communication that requested Minister Sonii’s appearance, insists that schools are demanding parents to buy certain school materials sold on campuses.According to Sen. Dillon, the same materials that parents are demanded to buy on campuses could be bought outside the schools at less prices.He notes that the school fees high, constraining parents and self – supported students.
Mr. Dillon asserts that the Education Ministry has an oversight on both the public and private schools, arguing that as the Ministry sets the curriculum for all the schools here, there should also be an oversight on the fees they are charging.But Minister Sonii says the Ministry of Education will investigate the public schools that are taking more than the required amount from students.
He encourages to report any school that is found liable.Meanwhile, Minister Sonii says he wants about 100 million dollars grant to be solicited through government and international partners, noting that the money that should have been a loan was converted to grant.
Minister Sonni explains that there are 23 districts in the country that do not have high schools, urging the Legislature to do due diligence to the Education Ministry’s budget to enable it to meet the needs of the schools in the various districts in the counties.
For his part, Sen. Oscar Cooper of Margibi County says the Minister should instruct the various Districts Education Officers (DEOs) and the Counties Education Officers (CEOs) to check with the various schools, especially on the hike in tuition.
Sinoe County Sen. J. Milton Teahjay also avers that it is troubling for the country to have a deficit of 5,000 teachers.Sen. Teahjay suggests that the Ministry of Education needs to reach out to nearby countries and bring in more qualified teachers to help in the Liberian education system.
According to Sen. Teahjay, this issue has been a long lasting issue from government to government, saying private schools should seek the consent of the Education Ministry before hiking tuition.Teahjay believes that the Ministry needs to have oversight over everything in both public and private schools.By Ethel A Tweh–Edited by Winston W. Parley