Tuesday’s rainy weather failed to prevent a mass protest staged on the grounds by hundreds and hundreds of private school teachers and students of the Capitol Building- the official seat of the Liberian Legislature.
Very wet by the rain on Tuesday, June 22, 2015, placard-carrying teachers and students had gone to the Legislature to protest the reported decision by the new Minister of Education, Mr. George Warner, to close schools by June 30, 2015.
It had been reported in certain quarters of the Liberian society a few weeks ago that the minister had earlier met with some school authorities, instructed that schools be closed by the end of June, and that a communication had been sent to the headquarters of the West African Examination Council or WAEC for Liberian twelve and nine graders not to sit this year’s exams- of course there were justifications given for these decisions by the Education Minister.
But earlier last week while touring the southeast of Liberia, Minister Warner was quoted on a number of radio stations as saying that he and his ministry had “no intention to close schools” as reported. Such clarity was on Tuesday was further confirmed by the minister before the Liberian Legislature when he appeared. At the end of his interaction with the Legislators, he was ordered to immediately withdraw his communication.
What the minister should have done- if and only if he ever insisted on such decision- was to first gage the views of school administrators/authorities, principals, as well as teachers, among others, as he did in Gbarnga, Bong County recently on making the education system better.
But again, it may have been an oversight rising out of his anxiety for his new job being so concerned about messy state of the Liberian education system. Again, it may not be too late for any decision to regularize the academic calendar in consonance with systems of the West African Sub-region. It would very possible for the “bottom-to-top” approach to find a common-ground.
And one recommendation that would have evolved possibly from the initial consultations with school authorities was for the current academic calendar to run on readjustment until mid-August, following which schools would reopened either in September or early October- that would have been an excellent compromise, other than the path on which Minister Warner chose to thrive.
But one can only hope that Tuesday’s protest, the minister’s denial and the instruction by the Legislators would further help the process of ensure ensuring an amicable solution to the situation. But the minister and Legislature must be commended for such meeting/interaction- even though it may have been pressure that may have led him to the Capitol Building.