Both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate have endorsed a joint committee report at the legislature, recommending that schools across the country should reopen on March 2, 2015 instead of February.
“The Committee resolved to a serious consultation after the departure of the ministerial delegation and a determination for the reopening to take place on the 2nd of March 2015. The committee therefore recommends to the plenary of the Liberian Senate, that the reopening of schools for instructional purpose be delayed for one month to allow adequate preparation of the facilities and the delivery of all the needed sanitation kits to the 5,181 schools within the country,” the joint committee recommended to plenary Thursday.
Both plenaries of the Liberian Legislature a week ago set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the reopening of schools following the downturn of the Ebola Virus Disease here.
The Executive branch of government through the Ministry of Education had announced the opening of schools for February 2, 2015, meaning next Monday.
Submitting its findings about the reopening of schools, Senator Peter Coleman of Grand Kru said the Ministries of Health and Education informed the Senate that they have concluded jointly protocol if followed, will ensure a safe and Ebola free environment for students, instructional and administrative staff.
Senate Coleman, a former Health Minister, said the senate was also informed by the joint committee of the executive branch that all hygienic or sanitary materials as well as temperature monitoring devices are available and in the process of being distributed but not very sure that all will be distributed before the February 2nd date of reopening.
According to him, the training of County and District Education Officers, and school administrators is ongoing and not near completion; that 500 public schools targeted for rehabilitation on a Quick Impact Project basis is yet to commence, and if works should begin, it will surely not be complete; and that the provision of hand pumps and sanitary accessories to schools around the country is ongoing but the scheduled date of the reopening of schools.
Also adding his voice to the report, the Senate’s Chairman on Education, Senator Dallas Gueh of Rivercess County, said the request for additional subsidies by private and faith-based schools is still under discussion, he described as a major challenge faced by the Ministry of Education as these institutions have the larger portion of schools within the country.
He noted that initial discussions had a US$ 3million projection but that has been rounded up to 17 million dollars. “It is not foreseeable that the discussion will be concluded and financed by February 2nd. There is however a need for assistance to be provided the private and faith-based schools,” the Senator stressed.
He maintained that most of the protocols instituted by the Ministries of Education and Health, have not trickled down to rural Liberia, including rehabilitation of schools, provision of sanitation materials, textbooks and other basic educational supplies and provision of hands washing centers, temperature and monitoring devices.
However, the committee has advised that registration process should remain ongoing to enable parents enroll their kids in a much more flexible manner.
Meanwhile, presiding officer, Senator H. Dan Morais, has constituted a special committee to work with the Executive in making sure these recommendations are adhere to.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor