Haywood Principal Wants Schs. Reopening Revisited

A veteran educator, Bishop Leo M. Simpson who is the Principal and Administrator of the Haywood Mission Institute has described as abrupt the reopening of schools by the Ministry of Education. Bishop Simpson said the reopening of schools is welcome news for school administrators, principals, teachers, parents/guardians and students but that they were caught by surprise by the abrupt announcement.

He argued that the scheduling of the reopening of schools throughout Liberia is the prerogative of the Minister of Education and her technocrats saying, “But to my greatest amazement, I may not be alone in this regard; the Minister of Education has hastily ordered all schools, ready or not to reopen for academic activities on February 2, 2015.”

“This in my considered opinion is an abrupt schedule that many school administrators, principals, teachers, students, parents and guardians who had not the foggiest idea, as to when schools were actually to reopen,” Bishop Dr. Simpson said.

Bishop Simpson observed that it will be very preposterous for school administrators and principals of all cashless private schools throughout Liberia, to prepare their respective schools, to reopen on such a short order.

Bishop Simpson also noted that to reopen schools, the private schools urgently need financial assistance to prepare their respective school compounds and structures, stressing that most of these buildings have been de-commissioned for four months and are in dire need of make-over.

The cleric who has an edge in providing sound education in the country further observed that payment of required school fees within one week for both old and new students is unrealistic, because most of the private schools in Liberia will have all of their fees paid at some of the local banks.

He then questioned whether if about a million private school students will be able to pay their fees within the government’s prescribed time taking into account the overcrowded banks and not forgetting that Ebola is yet a deadly force to be reckoned with, though, it has considerably been diminished, according to national and international health professionals.

Dr. Simpson also noted that the Education Ministry and health practitioners are yet to meet with a cross section of school administrators, principals and teachers, to provide them with the required skills they are going to need to protect their students in school and at all school sponsored programs or activities.

The administrator also said school administrators and principals are yet to meet with their teachers some of whom, by now, may have landed at some good paying jobs and are lost to these schools.

“There is a great need for school authorities to meet with the teachers and other employees who have been left out in the rain for six months. One day meeting is highly realistic. New teachers and other personnel will have to be hired and trained, before the abrupt reopening of schools,” Dr. Simpson intimated.

He also said each private school administrator and principal will have to craft out a policy in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with regards to their expectations for the parents/guardians and their children, as well as school personnel in reference to the deadly Ebola disease.

Dr. Simpson quizzed, “God forbids, if a student or an employee were to test Ebola positive on school premises; will the school authorities be held liable or the Education Ministry that ordered the abrupt reopening of schools? And what will happen to that school and its students?”

“Are we not putting the cart before the horse?” Dr. Simpson asked. “In the absence of any financial assistance from the Education Ministry for private schools, how will these viable institutions without money, unlike government schools that are funded by the national government be reopened?”

Dr. Simpson said, “First give the needed financial hands up to these private institutions and then order them reopened within a reasonable time, because reopening of schools is not an event but a tedious and long process.”

Bishop Dr. Simpson added, “Since the President did not impose a specific date in February for reopening schools, I beg, the Minister of Education that she should kindly listen to the silent voiceless school administrators, principals, teachers, students, parents and guardians, to their persistent pleas for some financial assistance from the national government.” SEE BELOW FOR FULL TEXT:

Thank God Almighty for our illustrious and farsighted President, Her Excellency, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for ordering all schools to reopen in February 2015.

This is a welcome news for school administrators and principals, teachers, parents/guardians and students who have been restlessly waiting for: THANK YOU Madam President.

Thus, the scheduling of the reopening of school throughout Liberia is now the prerogative of the Honorable Minister of Education and her technocrats.

To my greatest amazement and I may not be alone in this regards, the Hon. Minister of Education has hastily ordered all schools, ready or not reopened for academic activities on Feb. 2, 2015. This in my considered opinion is an abrupt schedule that many school administrators, principals, teachers, students, parents and guardians who had not the foggiest idea, as to when schools were actually to reopen. Principals will not be ready to reopen their respective schools, as mandated by the Hon. Minister of the Education Ministry, based on the following reasonable facts amongst others:

School administrators, principals, teachers, parents/guardians and students were caught by surprise, by the abrupt announcement for the reopening of all schools in Liberia.

  1. The Hon. Minister has been very consistent in alleging, prior to the announcement of the president to have all schools open in February, that she did not know when schools were to officially reopen.

It will be very intricate for school administrators and principals of all cashless private schools throughout Liberia, to prepare their respective schools, to reopen on such a short order. It is going to require considerable amount of money, which many, if not all private schools lack: why? Because school have been effectively shut down for four long months. One needs not to be a top notch economist to figure out the problem, which is MONEY! The private schools urgently need financial assistance to prepare their respective school compounds and structures for the use of their precious jewels. Most of these buildings have been de-commissioned for four months and are in dire need for a make- over. School chairs have to be reconditioned.

Stationary supplies are needed prior to the reopening of schools, in order to administer entrance examinations to new students, which is the standard norm. Nowadays, stationary products are too expensive.

  1. New students and seniors must sew new uniforms, which cost money and precious time.
  2. Students must purchase text books, if they can be found on the Liberian market and copybooks amongst other things. These too are extremely expensive.

Payment of required school fees within one week for both old and new students is unrealistic, because most of the private schools in Liberia will have all of their fees paid at some of the local banks. Will about a million private school students be able to pay their fees within the government’s prescribed time? Behold the OVERCROWED BANKS and we dare not forget that Ebola is yet a deadly force to be reckoned with, though, it has considerably been diminished, according to national and international health professionals.

  1. Mechanisms that need to be put in place at every standard and sub-standard schools are yet to be hatched out by the Education Ministry.

The Education Ministry and health practionals are yet to meet with a cross section of school administrators, principals and teachers, to provide them with the required skills they are going to need to protect their students in school and at all school sponsored programs or activities.

  1. School administrators and principals are yet to meet with their teachers some of whom, by now, may have landed some good paying jobs and are lost to these schools. There is a great need for school authorities to meet with the teachers and other employees, who have been left out in the rain for six months. One day meeting is highly realistic. New teachers and others personnel will have to be hired and trained, before the abrupt reopening of schools.

Each private school administrator and principal will have to craft out a policy in the form of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with regards to their expectations for the parents/guardians and their children, as well as school personnel in reference to the deadly Ebola disease. God forbids, if a student or an employee were to test Ebola positive on school premises will the school authorities be held liable or the Education Ministry that ordered the abrupt reopening of schools? And what will happen to that school and its students?

Private schools are still restlessly waiting for the financial assistance they urgently need and must have, if schools are to successfully reopen and function with recognizable progress.

Are we not putting the cart before the horse? In the absence of any financial assistance from the Education Ministry for private schools, how will these viable institutions without money, unlike government schools that are funded by the national government be reopened? First give the needed financial hands up to these private institutions and then order them reopened within a REASONABLE TIME, because reopening of schools is NOT an event but a tedious and long process.

Since the president did not impose a specific date in February for reopening schools, I beg, the Hon. Minister of Education that she will kindly listen to the silent voiceless school administrators, principals, teachers, students, parents and guardians, to their persistent plea for some financial assistance from the national government. Most private schools’ employees have gone without a pay for six months. Imagine, Madam Minister of Education, going without pay for six long months and you are asked to return to work in the absence of any financial help. I will be quick to surmise that with your professional and motherly instinct, coupled with your unquestioned love and kindness, you will certainly feel for the hundreds of unpaid private school employees, who are been summoned back to work. As they answer the call of national duty, it is my guarded opinion that, they will be given some appreciable financial hands up.

I will strongly argue the point in fact that, we should have been told about the probable reopening of schools on Feb. 2, 2015 in December 2014. Which could have afforded us to better prepare our campuses: Provided if the government had assisted these private schools’, for the authorities at the Ministry of Education to have no knowledge, as to when schools were to open is not a relevant excuse, I will attempt to vehemently argue.

About few weeks ago, the authorities of the Ministry of Education bitterly lamented over some unidentified schools, no doubt, private and public schools that did not have in door flush toilets, pipe born water, hand pump wells, science lab, library or reading room: it was mandated that these problems were to be addressed by the respective unnamed schools prior to the reopening of schools. One is left to wonder if these problems have been positively addressed and if not, why the rush to reopen schools?

In view of the above mentioned supra, I stand to reason that the abrupt schedule for all schools to resume academic works on February 2, 2015, is unreasonable and unimplementable, try as some of us may out of the fear of the unknown. Should the Hon. Minister of Education insists on the announced abrupt schedule, in the face of these unresolved problems within the system, it will be a dis-service to school authorities, students, parents and guardians, that the Ministry of Education was created to serve above all else.

I will entertain the optimism that the Hon. Minister of Education will pause, listen to the voice of reason and will reverse the announced abrupt schedule for the resumption of classes on February 2, 2015. Why the sudden rush to reopen schools that have been closed down for six months?

Are we to reason that all of the public schools in Liberia have been properly cleaned up, painted, school chairs reconditioned, and those without indoor flush or pipe born water or hand pumps given one? If this is the case, I must applaud the Hon. Minister of Education and her team, for doing such a laudable job. Now, will you please assist private school authorities by doing the same for their respective institutions. And, so, we restlessly await for your positive response.

Once again, I am humbly appealing to the Hon. Minister of Education and her team members to see reason, to have academic activities resumed on February 26, and better yet, March 2,2015: and to use the interim period to address some of the existing financial problems of all private schools in the nation.

Thank you, Madam Education Minister!

By: Bishop Dr. Leo Simpson

Administrator/Principal

Haywood Mission Institute

Monrovia, Liberia

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