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LICOSESS College demands apology from Sen. Bartekwa

By Emmanuel wise Jipoh 

The President of the Liberian Cooperative Standard Education School System (LICOSESS) Teacher Training College, Benjamin Yele Wehye has reacted sternly against Grand Kru County Senator Numene T.H. Bartekwa, demanding apology for what he describes as irresponsible, reckless, and denigrating comments made by the Senator that have jeopardized the moral image of his institution.

Sen. Bartekwa co-chairs the Senate Committee on Education and Public Administration.

Mr. Wehye notes that the Grand Kru County Senator, who has wealth of experience in the educational sector, shouldn’t be the one jeopardizing the survivability of Liberian-owned institutions.

At the confirmation hearing of Minister of Education-designated, Dr. Jarso Maley Jallah recently before the Liberian Senate, Bartekwa noted,  “Teacher and teaching is a very touching profession and so preparing the future of the country is not just anybody that can teach;  you have to be trained, that is why our government has the Zorzor Rural  Teacher Training  Institute; the Kakata Rural Training Institute; the Webbo Rural Teacher’s Training Institute (WRTTI), and those three are currently non-existent, and because of that you have people calling other makeshift professional school called LICOSESS; this other one, that other one, giving C-Certificates and they trained people who only got 1st-grade education and graduate them  with C-Certificates.”

He then urged the Minister-designate, to scrutinize and support teacher training institutions that are playing key roles in the sector, as they are instrumental to improving and having a far better educational sector for the country. 

But Senator Bartekwa’s comments have received serious backlash from the LICOSESS College of Education, whose President, Benjamin Wehye, says such characterization is denigrating and damaging to the reputation of his institution.

Mr. Wehye says the senator’s comments lack moral rectitude, as they have the propensity to destroy the good works and sacrifices the college has made, earning marks for itself and towards the education sector of Liberia over the years.

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“It is totally ridiculous, for people like Senator Bartekwa, who doesn’t want to see Liberian-owned institutions survive. I think Senator Bartekwa has an ulterior motive, aimed at destroying LICOSESS and we are not going to take this likely; as President of this institution, I’m going to ensure the Senator retracts his statement or apologize to LICOSESS, ” he maintains.

He warns Senator Bartekwa to do so or risk legal action for bringing the college to public disrepute.

“Senator Bartekwa must retract his statement; it is disgusting for a Senator like Bartekwa to sit in a confirmation hearing, a national platform that has so many people listening to who will become the Commander-In-Chief of the education industry and to speak so jeopardizing about those who have been sacrificing their lives over the years in such demeaning manner. The Senator has a motive, and I think his action was directly aimed at bringing LICOSESS to disrepute, and he must retract his statement. If he cannot do that – the least he can do as a Senator, we are exploring all legal means to pursue justice”, Mr. Wehye adds. 

During the confirmation hearing of the Minister of Education-designate, Sen. Bartekwa was heard describing the LICOSESS College of Education as one of those few makeshift teaching professional schools that are undermining Liberia’s educational sector.

According to him, the college has been awarding C-Certificates to people far below the academic qualification of being a teacher while pointing at the LICOSESS School as few of those teacher’s training institutions awarding C- Certificates to 1st graders.

He urged Dr. Jallah to if confirmed as minister, critique and revoke those training institutions awarding C-certificates to 1st Graders.

Bartekwa had said his comments were the result of dormancy of government-owned teacher’s training institutions, including Zorzor Rural Teacher’s Training Institute (ZRTTI), Webbo Rural Teacher’s Training Institute (WRTTI), and the Kakata Rural Teacher’s Training Institute (KRTTI), among others that were established to adequately train teachers that has allowed makeshift schools to award certificates to 1st graders to come in the classroom to teach.

He urged Dr. Jallah to ensure those teacher training colleges and institutions contemplating to train teachers are fully supported.

Senator Bartekwa must prove to the world that LICOSESS Teacher College has been handing teachers training C- Certificates to 1st-grade students when even recruitment criteria at this institution have never been below WASSCE Certificate or allowing an individual who is not a graduate of high school for enrollment. This is disheartening, and tarnishing on our part, for an institution we have struggled for the last 24 to 30 years. Senator Bartekwa must apologize or there’s a course of law”, Mr. Wehye demands. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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