Who Is The Voice For The Students Of Liberia???

I write as a member of the human family. I was born on the wrong side of history, in an obscure town of Fissibu, Lofa County, Liberia, West Africa: all because formal education was not a birth right for a COUNTRY BOY like me, in those despeakable era of our flawed history. Just been born in Liberia, and by virtue of that, a Liberian was not a constitutional guarantee that, I would have seen the door, safe to say, the interior part of a make-shift structure called school, in those intricate days for people of my kind.

The unimaginable fact is not lost on me that a formal education, at any level was not meant for me, as one who was born on the wrong side of history. Indeed it was a RARE PRI VILLAGE and a golden opportunity for me, to have walked through the door of a make-shift building called school.

What an intriguing miracle! I was handpicked in 1960 from so many of my tribal boys and girls to go to school. It was truely unbelievable at the time. The rest of my friends were assigned to the world of grinding poverty for the rest of their lives, in this country of insidious political, social, economic, religious and academic inequalities and injustices: coupled with the hideous racial, tribal, regional, and sectional discrimination among others.

There are times that, I have sat down and just wondered, as to why I was one of the very few individuals handpicked from many of my kinds, by the far sighted leaders of my sub-quarter in Fissibu town, to attend school in 1960? WHY ME?

You know the constitution that is much lectured about and pushed down our throats for the benefit of some privileged elites amended in 1986 was conspicuously absent for those of my friends, who were relegated by designed by the constitution, engraved on paper to the despeakable side of a history gone wrong.

Make no mistake about this, the selective use of the constitution by those who stand to greatly benefit positionally and financially, at the detriments of the rest is in my mind a misuse of the said constitution. Cherry picking the constitution of this old aged republic for the benefit of the pickers is in itself discriminatory and manipulative, for the want of a better legal word. I will leave this to the brilliant and seasoned legal practiceners of our turbulent moment in history.

WHO IS THE VOICE FOR THE STUDENTS OF LIBERIA???

Please bear with me as I construct my promises.

Though I am not a constitutional lawyer, or the son of one, but I know very well when the said constitution is whipped into action, irrespective of the precarious conditions within the territorial confines of Liberia and beyond. The benefactors will leap up and down crying ever so loudly WOLF! WOLF! WOLF! That if we don’t conduct the special senatorial election, Liberia will be confronted with vicious constitutional wolves, the like we have never seen sincel847.

Our constitution is the product of men/women: and thankfully not the Almighty God. There are no perfect constitutions. So go ahead and search for one.

I am baffled that our constitution becomes only inflexible, unworkable and untouchable by design to meet the selfish goal of the very few at the expense of the masses: most of whom, especially in the remotest and difficult areas to reach in our country, know very little about the constitution.

In recent time the battle cry for those Liberians who are in hot pursuit of high offices, and as a consequent, they are insisting on their constitutional rights at all cost: as if the special senatorial election is not staged the constitution will crash, the nation and its people will fall off the terrible constitutional cliff, into the eternal and fiery abyss. The sun will cease shinning, the rain will never fall and worst of all, the sky will fall on us, the earth will open up its gargantuan mouth and swallow us all up; and that will be the terrible end of Liberia. Don’t believe it.

We have been repeatedly told in uncertain terms that, we will have constitutional

CRISIS the magnitude of which has never been seen before. Special Senatorial election

NOW OF NEVER???

WHO IS THE VOICE FOR THE STUDENTS OF LIBERIA???

Is it too farfetched to opine with my unconstitutional brain that the elected President, Honorable Senators and Representatives have the constitutional right! Power, when absolutely and imperatively deemed necessary to TEMPORARYLY suspend, not amend or change the constitution in the face of a national crisis of historic proportion? If not, then we are doomed as the unwilling slaves of the men/women enshrined constitution, which has been most often than not subjected to all kinds of abuses misuses down through the years.

The political, economic, academic, religious, social, ethnic, class and the elite must ever be mindful that, elite does not mean ELITISM. The elected political elites of our troubled society are the servants, not RULERS of the poor and the poorest of the poor electorates.

After Election Day, then what????

Will the winning politicians continue to shower their followers with flowery speeches and unfulfillable promises?

Will they continue to distribute rice and cash to the very few of the poor and

Poorest of the poor, who swept them into high offices, thereby a creating a dependency syndrome or will they meanifully bring about quantifiable developments that will benefit all of the citizens, in hard to reach places?

WHO IS THE VOICE FOR THE STUDENTS OF LIBERIA???

One of the surest ways of eradicating ignorance, disease and abject poverty is to bring

education up to speed in all of its varied forms.

It is alleged that 115 million children worldwide don’t have access to rudimentary education. No wonder the perpetuation and sponsoring of unspeakable violence throughout our global village.

Multiplied thousands of Liberians students form K-i through 12 grades and colleges, are out of school since September 2014. The prospect for the reopening of all schools remains ever so bleak as our politicians are bent on having election in the midst of the deadly Ebola crisis, while our students are in the academic deep freezers. To have election now will cause the masses to interact, thereby increasing the likely hood of the multiplying of the dreaded Ebola cases: for the very reason schools are firmly shut down. If the students cannot come to school for the fear of attracting the worrisome Ebola disease, why must we subject millions of Liberian voters to the possibilities of coming down with the Ebola disease, as they will be out there sweating profusely and no doubt hugging each other? Why must the politicians be the exceptions to the rule, and our students in the multiplied thousands have their education placed on indefinite hold for the fear of them catching Ebola by congregating in classes, restrooms and playgrounds at schools? What is good for the politicians must be good for our students. Don’t you think so?

WHO IS THE VOICE FOR THE STUDENTS OF LIBERIA???

The Honorable Senate and the House of Representatives select committees on education have been inactive and conspicuously mute on the plight of our students, who are confined at homes- hopefully.

Where is the leadership by both committees on this crucial matter? Do the Honorable members of the committee of both Honorable Houses really know that the Liberian students are out of school? What are their plans in addressing these imperative problems, just as they are fighting tooth and nail to have by election at all cost? What are you doing from where you sit or stand to mitigate this problem?

Do the students of Liberia have any constitutional rights with regards to their education?

The Authorities at the Ministry of Education are yet to lucidly speak on this hot botton issue of the reopening of schools. Why is the date of the reopening of the schools couched in the blanket of top secret? Principles, school administrators, teachers, students, parents and guardians are left in the dark with regards to the reopening of schools. Thus the guessing game as to when schools will actually reopen will rule the day. Some of us, who are concerned, as to when schools will actually reopen, have heard through unreliable grape vine, that schools will reopen in January, February or in March 2015. If this is the plan of our government, the Ministry of Education that is tasked with the grave responsibility of managing all schools in Liberia should without unnecessary procrastinations inform the heads of the various schools through a meeting or letters. Why the deaden silence?

I am very much cognizant of the serious national problems that our President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has to tackle and she has tried her best, irrespective of the critical, mean-spirited and condescending voices of the few within our midst: who will never be satisfied with anything that this government does. I am of the considered view that since September, the Minister of Education and her/his team should have had plan A, B or C for the reopening of schools throughout the country, and same should have been crafted and presented to the President, Minister of the ministry of Health and Social Welfare, as well as our international partners in progress for their consumption and advice(s). If that was done, I stand corrected, because school principles, administrators and teachers are out of the loop, disconnected and marginalized, as if we are irrelevant to what is obtaining in the educational sector in this crisis hour.

To add insult to injury unlike government school employees, the employees of private schools have not been paid five (5) Liberian dollars since September 2014, and this is a serious problem for all of us, who value the education of all of our Liberian students.

Private schools employees are in dire economic need and we don’t hear any of our Hon. Senators who are racing for election and/or the Hon. Members of the House of Representatives addressing the problems of the students. The thousands of private school employees and their family members of voting ages are in the election pool, that the electable Hon. Senators will be looking for on Election Day, whenever that is going to be.

Lest we forget, there are more private schools in Liberia than government schools. Most of these private schools are not subsidized by the Government of Liberia: whereas, it is alleged in some of our daily news papers that, few law makers of both Houses are getting money for their alleged schools through the national budget. If this is true, then, I will argue that this is an unarguable conflict of interest. I would think that all subsidies to private schools should be processed through the Ministry of Education.

WHO IS THE VOICE FOR THE STUDENTS OF LIBERIA???

I am of the view that the authorities at the Ministry of Education should collaborate with the office of Madam President and our partners in progress, as well as all relevant Ministries and agencies of government with regards to probable dates for the reopening of schools: and that same should be passed on down to the principles and school administrators of all schools in Liberia: and that they will in turn communicate same to the anxious parents! Guardians of all schools, to help them prepare for the return of their children to school. Do not leave us in the land of uncertainty.

Just as politicians are allowed to enjoy the benefit of the inflexible constitution of the Republic of Liberia, why not our precious jewels, our most invaluable assets, their education should be prioritized and be protected by the same constitution of the land.

I was privileged to have travelled some seventy minutes to Weinsu, Bong County for a church service, the town is fairly large with hundreds of school going children, but the sad thing is that, there is not a school in this town. I was told that some of the children go to school in Germany camp, miles, and miles away. This is 2014, and these children of a nation that is one hundred and sixty seven years old don’t have access to a school, inspite of the fact that we have a constitution that advocates for a compulsory education: that insists that formal education is the constitutional right of every Liberian child. Try telling that to the school ready children of Weinsu, Bong County.

Are those who are in hot persuit of the voters in Bong County aware of the disturbing fact that, there is a town with no school not too remote from the paved road leading to Gbarnga, Bong County? If they are not, why not? Will they use some of their own personal financial and material resources to mitigate some of these horrendous school situations right in their back yards?

Doubtless to argue that what is true for the town of Weinsu, Bong County can be true for some towns within this grand old nation.

Most governments in Liberia, unlike the current government, headed by our capable President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf never prioritized education and the building of schools for all of our children. There has been a sustained criminal neglect of quality education in this land since 1847, to the ascendency of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the most craved after highest office in this impoverished land of ours. This administration to its credit has tried inspite of the limited financial / material resources to construct some new schools and to prioritize the education of school ready girls.

The book: GROWTH WITHOUT DEVELOPMENT:

Author: Robert W. Clover, George Dalton, Mitchell Harwitz and A.A Walters. This is a must read book.

The authors vehemently argued that, during the administration of the late William V.S Tubman, there was an unarguable economic growth in Liberia, but there was not a corresponding development. Of all the presidents of Liberia, President Tubman had the golden opportunity to have developed Liberia: well that is a story for the historians for another day.

WHO IS THE VOICE FOR THE STUDENTS OF LIBERIA???

In my mind, the collective voice for all of our precious students now and into the remotest future MUST be the following:

  1. Those who make the law of the land
  2. Those who interpret the laws of the land
  3. Those who enforce the law of the land
  4. The religious communities and leaders
  5. Principles, schools administrators and teachers
  6. Political aspirants and their political parties
  7. Political leaders of all political leaning
  8. The business communities( National and International)
  9. Local and international NGOs
  10. Indigenous leaders

11 .Parents and guardians, amongst others

When we are DEADLY silent on the imperative issue of education, we imperil and mortgage the future of our students: as has been the unacceptable and unwise policies of governments since 1847.

Lift up every voice, shout it from the house top that the education of our children is too important a business, to be toyed with: as doing so will endanger their future and that of the nation.

To the relevant authority at the Education Ministry, Republic of Liberia, the students on forced vacation, as a consequence of the Ebola disease, their parents, guardians, school principles, school administrators and the multiplied thousands of private school teachers really want to know WHEN will schools reopen? Is it in January, March or September of 2015? We are very much frustrated and are waiting for any news good or not in silent desperation from the Minister of Education, the Chief Educator of the Republic of Liberia.

As I close, I am begging the national government to lean on our generous partners in progress near this capital, to come to the aid of all private school employees, who are by the way significant contributors to the education of our invaluable and priceless children. These employees are off the national radar or can we argue that, they may have been forgotten, because they are existing and suffering in silence, let us raise up our collect voice in support of these honorable men and women, who are preparing our children today for tomorrow challenges and opportunities, for so small a monthly salary.

I am sure that the Minister of Education RI is fully aware of the stubborn fact that most of the private schools, if not all are without money: and why is that, one may dare to wonder? Here is the single answer, that with most private schools if not all: NO STUDENTS, NO MONEY. This responsible government has to hammer out a plan to assist all of the private schools, to facilitate their reopening. We desperately need financial hands up, at this crucial time in the history of our Lone Star Republic: LIBERIA.

Bishop Dr. Leo M. Simpson

Administrator/Principle

Haywood Mission Institute

PAW/INC., Sinkor, Old Road

Monrovia, Liberia

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