At the time Liberia is ranking high on a UNIESCO rating of countries with children of school going age out of school, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says she will “instruct” the immediate closure of schools and dismissal of teachers involved in protests here.
She vowed to also deal drastically with protesting students who blocked streets and the route leading to the Roberts International Airport or RIA in Margibi County. “I’m going to instruct the Ministry of Education to close those schools immediately; and then we are going to ask for those students involved so that we see we deal with them. If there are teachers involved, they are going to be dismissed,” President Sirleaf told journalists at the RIA Wednesday, 28 September upon her return from the UN 71st General Assembly.
In a rather angry reaction against the road blockades, including the route leading to RIA by protesting students on Tuesday, 27 September, President Sirleaf vowed that “today, we are going to start a program of discipline”.
Earlier on Tuesday, 27 September, police authorities said they began a dialogue with the Ministry of Education, the National Teachers Association, and Monrovia Consolidated School System or MCSS Teachers Association to end teachers’ strike, student protests and street blockades on grounds that it had “serious national security risk”.
Mrs. Sirleaf said it was brought to her attention while in Ghana on Wednesday that students blocked the road to Robertsfield and as a result of such, many people had to cancel their flights and travelling on motorcycles with their baggages in their hands.
She also said the protest affected airlines since travelers could not get their flights and airlines could not get the passengers they needed to fly, warning that “no one has the right to infringe on the rights of others because of their grievance.”
President Sirleaf suggested that if one has a grievance, there are means to seek redress, concluding that the government will not allow students or any other protest groups to infringe on people in such a way that causes them physical or financial injury.
The President was received at the airport by some key members of her official cabinet, including Defense Minister Brownie Samukai and newly appointed Police Inspector General, Col. Gregory Coleman, as armed riot police troops from the Emergency Response Unit and Police Support Unit jointly kept maximum security in addition to the presidential guard EPS.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by George Barpeen