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School Reopening: Reconsidering the February 2 benchmark

The Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Education, is still maintaining its February 2 date for the resumption of normal academic activities across the country, despite public outcry against the decision.

Interventions by some members of the Legislature, including Senator George Weah of Montserrado County for deferment, at least to March or April may not just be making sense against the government’s will.

A recent meeting between private school authorities and those of the Ministry for adjustment could not realize the anticipated result, as the latter insisted that it was a policy that could not be reversed.

The government said it had been preparing since last to reopen all schools across the country, most private schools continue to express unpreparedness- suggesting that the government’s claim of preparedness since last year was not in collaboration with private school authorities.

The government’s claim of ‘adequate’ preparedness even contradicts the realities with almost all of its own schools around the country. Reports from the counties in recent days monitored by the New Dawn Liberia monitored on State Radio speak to the fact that most government-run public schools, especially in the southeastern region of Liberia are yet to received their operational grants since 20112, while, at the same time, indicating the complete lack “basic stationery” and other materials to even initiate the process of registration.

This leaves many to wonder what preparedness the government is talking about for the abrupt reopening of schools.
Authorities of the Education Ministry must be made to understand that it always better to tell the truth to the President of Liberia and take time to achieve certain national goals, including the current matter, than giving her the impressions that all is well for hasty decision.

The mere fact that most government-run public schools, mainly in Rural Liberia, are presently without operational grants and stationery, it is also indicative of the reality that the government itself is unprepared, and that the decision may not have been only hasty, but political and selfish.

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This is why we wholehearted embrace President Sirleaf interjection that the reopening of schools should not be hasty for the sake of meeting deadlines, but demanded to be more important was putting the necessary mechanisms in place for the safety of students.

This only suggests that something is wrong somewhere, and that we all must take cue from the President comments on this matter for the first time.

Even though other private schools may favor the decision not only because of the children of Liberia, but “high profit-making”, it is important that Education Ministry revisit its decision to reopen schools on February 2 to avoid the many future problems that may arise out of the process due to the unpreparedness of school authorities, parents, guardians and self-supported students to expedite the reopening process.

And the government must listen to the many public outcry and appeals to do things right.

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