The William Booth Salvation Army High School in Paynesville Redlight was a scene of jubilation Wednesday, 8 April when the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning presented a check for US$140, 155.00 for the renovation of the institution, which was gutted by fire on 4 March this year.
The Liberian Government says the gesture demonstrates its commitment and love for every school in the country without exception.
The authorities have been accused repeatedly by private school proprietors of doing very little if any for private institutions, with all attention focus on public schools.
The William Booth High School is one of the institutions operated by the Salvation Army School System in Liberia. Fire mysteriously gutted the school campus in March just as students in the country returned from a long break due to the deadly Ebola Virus Disease that hit Liberia from neighboring Guinea in 2014, devastating every sector of the country.
A total of 989 students were constrained to stay out of the campus as a result of the fire incident, which is being investigated by the Liberia National Police and the National Fire Service.
Speaking yesterday on the school campus during presentation of the check to authorities of the William Booth High School, the Assistant Minister for Budget at the Ministry of Finance and development Planning, Augustine K. Blama, who deputized for Minister Amara Konneh, said Government remained committed to supporting private schools across the country. “The burning of this school is an attempt to hut the learning process of these students, but we remain committed to you”, Assistant Minister Blama assured.
He reminded that recently, the Government through the Ministry of Education promised to support private schools with budgetary allotments to enable them carry out full payment of teachers and other staff in private institutions, adding, Government does not focus on public schools alone but very school, including private, because all of those students are Liberians.
Receiving the check, the Commanding Officer and Head for the Salvation Army School System in Liberia, Mr. Gabriel M. Kathuri, thanked the Government for the assistance. Commander Kathuri said those he described as wicked individuals, who think by burning the school will stop students from learning are wasting their time.
Though the authorities have made no arrest, he said people may have succeeded in burning down the school, but did not burn down the minds of the students, who are attending there, “because they will regret their action and make open confession in the public”
He said the Salvation Army School System will not sit supinely and allow its students to suffer.
Meanwhile, outgoing Education Minister, Madam Etmonia D. Tarpeh, said Government’s response to the William Booth High School is to show solidarity with the institution and the innocent students, who suffered the incident most.
She reiterated that the Ministry had promised to facilitate private school teachers during the heat of the deadly Ebola virus disease in Liberia, something which created heated argument in the public about public school instructors receiving monthly salaries, while their counterparts in the private schools were not receiving anything from their respective institutions.
Madam Tarpeh indicated that many private schools were not paying their teachers as a result of lack of funding, while public school teachers were receiving monthly salaries, something which prompt private school authorities to increase tuition.
Minister Tarpeh said it was in fulfillment of the promise to assist private schools that prompted the Government through the Education Ministry to request private and faith-based institutions to summit personnel listings and payrolls for allowance.
By Lewis S. Teh