THIS PAPER HAS conducted an independent investigation on the reopening of schools relating to the turnout at schools in Monrovia and its environs for registration in order to meet the February 2 deadline as announced by the Ministry of Education
OUR SURVEY CONDUCTED at private and public schools indicate that among public schools and experts realized that about 45-60% of students would not be in school this coming school calendar year due to the Ebola virus while among private schools, the ratio could be even higher due to what many Liberians have described as economic constrains coupled with the abrupt time frame attached to the reopening process.
MANY PARENTS ARE reluctant in registering their children because they are yet to be convinced that when their children return to the classrooms with other students not knowing their status and there is no guarantee or hardly any visible measures put in place to prevent any occurrence of the Ebola outbreak.
MORE CONCERNS ARE based on what is termed as the most recent pronouncement from the Ministry of Education or a mere rumor is that if a child who is in school is noticed of being sick or having any symptoms of the virus while in school may be taken to an Ebola Treatment Center before the parent is given notice about his or her status.
SINCE THE GOVERNMENT of Liberia through the Ministry of Education announced the resumption of schools on February 2, 2015 with registration and orientation processes kicking off in mid January, some private school administrators have termed the decision made by the government as being ‘abrupt’ while others have called on the government to rethink its decision but with the stiffness in ensuring that the instructional period remains as pronounced, school administrations have increased their fees while some have opted not to reopen their schools until at a later date to be announced in the near future.
THE RESUMPTION OF schools has created pandemonium from educational stakeholders and other actors both in the private and public sectors but the government has remained resolute and adamant in the position even though there appears to be a sharp reduction in tuition and fees for public schools.
WHILE WE LOOK forward to the reopening of schools, the MOE has announced reduction in fees but what becomes of the private schools? As there is a sharp decrease in tuition and fees in public schools, private schools are tripling their tuition and fees with nothing being said by the MOE; this is equally a concern because every child cannot be made to attend public schools and if so, there will be a violation of the 50 per class instruction from the very government.
THEREFORE, THIS BEHOOVES us to equally add our voices to those appealing to the Ministry of Education to reconsider its decision or rethink its position on the date announced for the reopening. Taking into consideration other issues like Ebola and parents lacking tuition, we believe that with ample time, these will fall into place.
OUR APPEAL, MADAM Minister is for the extension of the time and we hope that the Ministry will also see reasons to intervene in the hike of tuition and other fees for private schools as well as the percentage that is needed before a child be qualified to be enrolled.
IN AS MUCH as education is not cheap, even as we appeal for time, we also appeal that the Ministry of Education liaises with educational stakeholders of private schools to ensure that tuition and fees are reasonably paid so that all students can have the opportunity to get enrolled during this critical calendar year.