School authorities take MoE to task
By: Emmanuel wise Jipoh
The Monrovia Open Bible Standard School in Old Road community and the Maretha Preparatory International School on 3rd Street in Sinkor, Monrovia have both denied claims of tuition hikes and illegal operation, as announced by the Ministry of Education.
Addressing the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) regular press briefing last Thursday, September 23 in Monrovia, Deputy Education Minister for Administration Latim Da-thong, who also heads the ministry’s Special Inspectorate Taskforce on schools compliance named the Monrovia Open Bible Standard School, the Maretha Preparatory International School in Sinkor and Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) School on Camp Johnson Road as institutions arbitrarily hiking tuition and operating without permits.
In the aftermath of the Deputy Minister’s pronouncement, the schools allegedly involved have threatened to take the government to court, for providing false information to the public.
Speaking in separate news conferences over the weekend shortly after the pronouncement, the mentioned schools clarified that they’re in no violation of the Ministry of Education’s school compliance regulations.
The Principal of the Monrovia Open Bible Standard School, Isaiah Gbotoe, denied that his institution is involved in tuition hikes, adding that he has been in straight compliance, operating with permit from government.
However, the Vice Principal for Administration at the same institution, Mrs. Daisy B. Vambo, did confess that the school made a little increase in tuition for this academic year than the previous year 2021-2022, which was done based on agreement between the school administration and the Parent-Teachers Association to acquire an additional computer laboratory.
Vice Principal Vambo recounted that in Academic 2021-2022, tuition for 12th graders was put at 23, 050 Liberian Dollars and for Academic 2022- 2023, it is 28,600 Liberian Dollars, which is a little over 5,000 Liberian Dollars added, as discussed between parents and students, and the administration multiple times.
She said the extra 5,050 Liberia Dollars is to provide an additional computer lab, which was agreed upon before the start of Academic 2022-2023.
“The Administration has personally consulted with students many times; we have met the parents, telling them about the little increment for the computer fee and renovation of the school laboratory. The tuition issue was discussed many times, even before the school reopening. Therefore, our parents are acknowledgeable of it, she explained.
Madam Vambo added that the Monrovia Open Bible Standard School has also paid permit compliance fees for this academic year, which is $40,380 Liberian Dollars into the account of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), and administration obtained official flag receipt, contrary to claim by the Ministry of Information.
She said Deputy Minister Da-thong asked for the school permit and he was informed that the permit was in the Principal’s Office, but the principal had gone to attend a funeral service and would make it available upon return, which the Deputy Minister agreed to, but added to their utmost surprise, he took the school’s name to the MICAT press briefing as one of the schools that are in non-compliant, which is unfair and frustrating.
“Da-thong asked us for the permit and we told him that we were done with the permit and the receipt was in the Principal’s Office and he had gone for a funeral service, and he accepted our appeal”, VP Vambo insisted.
For his part, the Principal of the Maretha Preparatory International School, Mr. Cornelius King, said there is no further increment in fees, which currently stand at 92, 325 Liberian Dollars for 12th Graders, while tuition for 9th Graders is 78,000 Liberian Dollars, respectively.
Mr. King described the Ministry of Education’s claim about fees increment as false and only meant to tarnish reputation of the school.
“We didn’t hike the fees for the 2022-2023 year, our school fees are the same from last academic year to this year, which is $92,325 Liberian dollars for 12th graders as you can see on our information sheets for both years”, he noted.
“Our tuitions are like this for few years now, from the previous academic year, last year to this 2022-2023 academic year, simply we have administrative costs to take care of and have to pay our staff.
This is too frustrating and surprising to us, that our school’s name is mentioned among others that are operating without permit. This is completely black lie to mislead the people, giving flowers to themselves that they’re working as a means to destroy other people’s institutions, but we at Maretha Preparatory International School won’t sit there and look at the government tarnishing our reputation. We will legally approach the matter; they’re government, we respect them; they too much respect us, because we pay our taxes, and have our permit”, Principal King threatened.
He added that the Maretha Preparatory International School, has been in existence since the 1990s and with thirty unbroken years, the school has never owed the Government on the permit.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education early September launched a school inspectorate task force to clamp down on abnormal hikes in school fees during Academic 2022/2023.
The taskforce is to ensure full adherence with academic calendar policies and school permit regulations, particularly in private schools. Editing by Jonathan Browne
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