After suspension of CEO, 2 school principals
By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County
Public schools in Pleebo, Maryland County have begun to reimburse students after the Ministry of Education suspended the County Education Officer and two school principals for hiking fees.
The reimbursement process began on Monday, November 15, 2021, with several students at the Pleebo High School in Pleebo, Sodokan district receiving their added fees charged by the school administration.
The Principal of the Pleebo High School Cisco Williams told a news conference that following several negotiations, meetings regarding the mandate from the Ministry of Education, his administration has resolved to refund added fees paid by students.
Principal Williams explained added fees charged were intended to lodge three (3) Nigerian instructors, who according to him are expected in the county to buttress his staff as he has been informed by the District Education Officer through written communication.
“We have resolved due to the mandate from the ministry, coupled with order negotiations and meetings within the county to reimburse the fees paid by students today”. He said.
He disclosed this is not the first time for the administration to increase fees, justifying the added fees were done to have undertaken some activities on campus.
Mr. Williams names payment of volunteers, handbooks, batches, and neckties, amongst others, as reasons for hiking the school fees.
He says since they have agreed to refund the fees, students will take responsibility for purchasing their own handbooks, batches, and neckties.
He encourages students to see the reimbursement as an opportunity to purchase these school materials.
However, the chairperson for Parents-Teachers Association of the school Mr. Sloh Doe says the reimbursement is a total setback to the school.
He explains that the school currently has 10 volunteers who are being maintained through PTA fees charged by the school.
“Let me inform you, the added fees you hearing about are meant for the payment of these volunteers and to undertake some projects on the campus because the government’s 60 percent after registration is usually spent on students’ neckties, ID cards, handbooks, and batches, amongst others.”
“So as we are giving it back; it will serve as a total setback to the academic system because the government-employed teachers at this school are not enough to run this big school”, Mr. Doe notes.
He describes the situation as worrisome due to a lack of funds to maintain those volunteer teachers, who according to him, are playing key roles at the institution.
Receiving the refund, several students lauded the national government through the Acting Minister of Education for intervening to halt the economic pinch.
“Thank God we have received our balance of $4,850LD. But our attention is with our volunteer teachers most especially Bro. Edward Freeman, our Mathematics Teacher who has been bearing with us for the past 7 to 8 years, working as a volunteer, a BSc. degree holder. We don’t know their next steps. We hope the government will do something quickly” the students expressed.
The Ministry of Education through Acting Minister Latim Da-thong early this week suspended Maryland County Education Officer (CEO) Professor Tehneseo P. Brohdonyen and two school principals for one month for arbitrarily increasing fees in public schools.
However, on Thursday, November 11, 2021, while addressing the Ministry of Information’s weekly Press Briefing in Monrovia, the Deputy Minister had announced that government, through the Ministry of Education has no authority to regulate fees charged by private schools in the country.
But a local advocacy group, Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education says contrary to the Deputy Minister’s comments, the New Education Reform Act of 2011 clearly mandates the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Education to manage and regulate both public and private schools across Liberia.
National Coordinator Anderson Miamen argues that the oversight and regulatory responsibilities of the Ministry of Education are clearly outlined in relevant chapters and provisions of the New Education Reform Law of Liberia.
He specifically cites that Chapter 1.4.1 (under general provisions) that reads the Act “shall apply to and cover the establishment, management, and supervision of All Schools within the Republic of Liberia, including but not limited to all public, private, faith-based, and boarding schools, with the only exceptions, provided for in Section 1.4.2 being military training centers and police/security training institutions.
The ministry has a policy on fees to be paid by all public school students across the country, requiring Grade 1-6 to pay LRD1,000, Grade 7-9 to pay LRD2,000, while senior high division (10th -12th Grade) are to pay LRD3,000 at the beginning of the academic year without additional fees being added by the administration.
The hike in school fees is happening across the country, but parents in Pleebo took the bull by their own by alarming the situation, which led to the prompt intervention by the ministry.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/liberia-ministry-of-education-suspends-ceo-2-principals/ Editing by Jonathan Browne