The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Education has launched a code of conduct for public school teachers across the country.
The director for communications at the Ministry of Education Maxim Bleteen said, the code of conduct is intended to enable teachers conduct themselves in the classroom as well as eliminate corporal punishment in schools.
Speaking to UNMIL Radio in Monrovia, Mr. Bleteen said among others, the code forbidsmale teachers from wearing short pants, slippersor even plaiting hair to teach or being in entertainment centers with students.
He also said female teachersare disallowedto wear jewelries or chains around the ankles to teach or wear short clothes in the classroom.
Mr. Bleteen stressed that teachers should conduct themselves properly so students can follow their good examples, saying students would likely adapt lifestyles of teachers because they are the ones imparting knowledge.
He warns that if a teacher impregnates any student, he would not only face dismissal, but also prosecuted, and if found guilty, sentenced because it is unethical for a teacher to have sexual relationship with a student.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education has alerted the police to arrest anyone caught selling textbooks and other school materials being distributed to schools. Mr. Bleteensaid the Ministry has distributed school materials provided by UNICEF to about 5,000 schools in the country, but they are not meant for sale.
He said school authorities are required to sign for materials received and have them officially stamped so if the police arrest anyone with the supplies selling them, the authorities responsible will be drastically dealt with.
The communication director urged parents and the public in general to help in arresting anyone caught selling school materials and turn them over to the police, saying “Those school materials are for the use of the children and the will also benefit them and also be a less burden to parents to buy books and other materials for their children.”
The Government of Liberia is encountering stiff resistance from teachers and international partners, including the United Nations to its plan to privatize and outsource primary education in the next five years. Liberia’s Education Minister George Werner, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU with Bridge International Academies to kick start the process with reports that a pilot project has already begun with 70 schools here.
Bridge International Academies is a company incorporated in the United States under the name New Globe School Inc. Liberian authorities are expected to spend around US430 million over the five years period.
International and local experts say such arrangement is not only a blatant violation of Liberia’s international obligations under the right to education, and have no justification under Liberia’s constitution, but will also deny indigents and poor access to quality education.
By Ethel A. Tweh-Edited by Jonathan Browne