By Melissa Chea-Annan
Over 1,500 students of the Juah Sarwee Memorial Welfare Institute in the Borough of New Kru Town may likely drop out of school for the 2013/2014 academic school year, if nothing is urgently done by the Government of Liberia and philanthropists to complete the construction of the school. The concerned Principal of the school, Robert Teah, told the INQUIRER over the weekend that the school may be closed down due to lack of funding to complete the construction of the second phase of the project, which is estimated at US$ 30,000.
The school which, was established in 2003 under the name “Community Welfare Institute,” is a tuition free School, with an aim of catering to the less fortunate and vulnerable children in New Kru Town and its environs from Nursery to 6th grade.
Many parents took advantage of the school’s mission, thereby seizing the opportunity and sending their kids there since they couldn’t afford the cost of tuition at other schools.
The school started with an enrollment of 300 students but the number has increased to over 1,500 students, with 80 students in each classroom.
Due to the over crowdedness of the school, the administration, in collaboration with the parents embarked on a project to expand the school to accommodate the students and to further prevent health hazard.
At the moment, Mr. Teah said the amount of US$ 30,000 is needed to complete the project for the school year which begins in September, 2013. “If we can’t raise this money, I am afraid that we will be forced to close down the school and let the children go somewhere else,” Mr. Teah stated.
The school Principal said the school has 21 rooms, including 11sessions for nursery, with a staff of 63. He said it is based on the pouring in of more students that the school decided to add 16 rooms, a project that is being undertaken with the support from the parents and community dwellers.
Already the parents have expressed fear that the closure of the school due to the lack of funding could also endanger the future of their kids who have seen the free school as an opportunity to acquire education.
Some of the parents who spoke to The INQUIRER pleaded for assistance since they (parents) are not employed to have their kids sent to school.
“If Mr. Teah closes this school, our children will go back to the streets and this will be too bad for us,” one of them said.
Mr. Teah explained that in 2007, with the consent of the Liberian leader, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the name of the school was later changed, to Juah Sarwee Memorial Welfare Institute, in honor of the President’s grandmother.
Mr. Teah, said the decision to name the school in honor of the President’s grandmother was based on her (President) interest in education and her numerous contributions to the school and people of New kru Town.
According to him the enrollment of the school increased after it was named in honor of the President’s grandmother, thereby causing problem for accommodation.
He said the increment in students has also given the administration the urge to add afternoon and evening sessions following the completion of the construction.
Although she has made lots of contributions to the school through the Ministry of Education, the school administration is appealing to president Sirleaf to assist and ensure that the project is completed before the commencement of the 2013/2014 academic semester in September.
Mr. Teah is also appealing to philanthropists to assist the school in ensuring that the construction is completed before the school year. He said the funds they raised through a rally program have assisted them in reaching the construction to its present level.