By Varney K. Sirleaf
The Principal of Haywood Mission School, Bishop, Dr. Leo Simpson, has questioned the credibility of the current Minister of Education, George Werner for his alleged educational reform plan called “Proposal for Change”.
Bishop Simpson stated in a statement released yesterday that promotion based on one semester academic work is wrong and unethical, therefore stating that ‘doing so will be like committing an organized and government endorsed academic MURDER’.
He said no well-educated, trained, experienced and seasoned principals, administrators and teachers of schools will execute what Minister Werner is demanding of them by carrying mass promotion from grades K-8, 10-12, because he said doing so will be very harmful and dangerous to the children and will mortgage the academic future of young Liberians.
“Mr. Education Minister, your much anticipated educational reform will not fly without the unqualified involvement of those of us, who are on the front line of education: you will not succeed without us, and at the end of the day, you must deal with us as partners in progress or your failure is all but signed, and your alleged educational proposal is dead upon arrival. You have my word on it,” the statement said.
The Pentecostal Bishop outlined some of the flaws in the Minister’s mandate as follow:
“That 8th grade students who are promoted to the 9th grade will have no classroom, because the 9th-12th grade students are unprepared;
That 11th grade students who are promoted to the 12th grade will have no classroom, because the 12th grade students are being held back; That Private school authorities have signed ten (10) months contracts with their teachers who will bear the responsibility for the bridge of contract, which amounts to huge sums of money that we will not have to pay and parents/guardians will not pay the second semester tuition fees for their children/wards. This will be funds that will not accrue to private schools in Liberia.
The Bishop summarize the propose education reform policy and concluded that the minister’s quest for a rapid change will be a failure.
“This sudden rush to the short cut of the much heralded educational reform of the 168 years of the messy Liberian educational system will not succeed: it is a recipe for disaster”, the statement emphasized. SEE BELOW FOR FULL TEXT:
WHY THE SHORT CUT?
This sudden rush to the short cut of the much heralded educational reform of the 168 years of the messy Liberian educational system will not succeed: it is a recipe for disaster.
The first order of business for the Minister’s alleged educational reform plan should be the following amongst others.
- Get the many students, who are sitting daily on the bare classroom floors off the said floors, by manufacturing some durable arm chairs
- Completely renovate school buildings that are in ruinous conditions nationwide
- Provide every school throughout the country the much needed school supplies, so that they cannot use coal for chalks
- Construct some school libraries or reading rooms at some strategically located schools
- Build some science laboratories in some of the populous cities nationwide
- Build restrooms and hand pump wells at most schools nationwide
- Upgrade the few normally functioning teachers training institutions and build some more of them in some of the populated cities throughout the nation
- The William V.S. Tubman Teacher’s college, at UL should be well funded and some appreciable financial incentives be given to every student, at the said college
- Give good financial benefits to teachers, who will take up teaching assignments out of Monrovia, in any of the leeward counties
- Make educational materials for students, parents/guardians and schools affordable. The government should reduce the tax levied on all educational materials
- Re-evaluate all existing sub — standard schools and stream line the granting of permits to establish a school. It should be made much harder for an individual or church group to establish a school.
- Construct more vocational schools, in some strategic counties.
Mr. Education Minister, it is indisputable that the Hon. Etmonia Tarpeh, the former Minister of Education, who unfortunately had to be removed as Minister of Education and her seasoned and experienced deputies and technocrafts produced an academic instructional calendar that mandated schools to reopen in February and close down in November 2015, and we complied under some intricate financial conditions. It is unarguable that the Honorable Members of the National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia debated and approved the said calendar. Next, Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia approved the said calendar.
Afterward, the Ministry of Education distributed the approved calendar to every school in Liberia.
Upon assuming your formidable responsibility, as the Minister of Education, I do believe that you were fully cognizant of the approved calendar, that was in full swing: however, you hastily circulated copies of your aspirations for educational reform, termed as “Proposal for Change”, as to when and how this document was crafted, you are the only one person who knows. The so called proposal among other things, demanded the closing of all schools by the end of June 2015, without any regard to the dire consequences to result.
On June 24, 2015, you appeared before the National Legislature and told the entire nation and the world at large that, you have no plan to order the closure of schools by June 2015 and you were accordingly mandated to retract your statement and to withdraw your letter you wrote to WAEC International Head Office.
On June 26, 2015, you and the fast talking Hon. Minister of Information, held a press conference and informed the Liberian people and the world that, all schools in Liberia are ordered closed on July 31, 2015, and that all students in grades K — 8, 10 — 11 were to be promoted on the basis of one semester’s academic work done: further that, students of grades 9 and 12 were not to be promoted: thus, mandating these young people to repeat their classes, due to no faults of their own!
Hon. Minister, your mandate is flawed as follows:
- 8th grade students who are promoted to the 9th grade will have no classroom, because the 9th grade students are unprompted.
- 11th grade students who are promoted to the 1 2th grade will have no classroom, because the
12th grade students are being held back.
- Private school authorities have signed ten (10) months contracts with their teachers. Who will bear the responsibility for the bridge of contract, which amounts to huge sums of money that we will not have to pay.
- Parents/guardians will not pay the second semester tuition fees for their children/wards. This will be funds that will not accrue to private schools in Liberia.
Above all else, Hon. Education Minister, why are you mandating principals, administrators and teachers of schools to PROMOTE STUDENTS TN GRADES K – 8 and 10 – 11 in mass?
Promotion based on one semester academic work is wrong, unethical; and doing so will be to commit an organized and government endorsed academic MURDER. There is no national precedent for what you are vehemently demanding of us. You are in a class all by yourself.
Mr. Minister, even during the unspeakable murderous, destructive, turbulent war years, no Minister of Education ever demanded an abrupt change in the academic school year or mandated mass promotion of all students based on one semester’s academic work, as you attempting to do.
Why now? Mr. Minister of Education, this is not a war year, we are not in a national emergency but in an era of relative peace and stability. Sir, your mandate, if allow to stand will disrupt the said peace and stability that you and I now enjoy.
Frankly speaking, Hon. Minister, no well-educated, trained, experienced and seasoned principals, administrators and teachers of schools will execute what you are demanding of them. Doing so will be an academic corruption sanctioned by the Hon. Minister of Education of all people. We have never been in the business of promoting students on the basis of a lone semester academic work. Doing so Sir, will be very harmful and dangerous to our children. Should your mandate be allowed to stand, it will mortgage the academic future of our young Liberians. It will inevitably lead us to serious disruption, chaos and disfunctionalities in the system that you are anxiously aspiring to reform.
Mr. Minister of Education, your short cut Educational reform reminds one of a coup d’etat or a sudden invasion.
Why has the Hon. Minister of Education snubbed some of Liberia’s well qualified, highly educated, trained, seasoned, experienced and devoted principals, administrators and teachers? What is our Minister really afraid of, that he is refusing to consult with us?
Mr. Education Minister, your much anticipated educational reform will not fly without the unqualified involvement of those of us, who are on the front line of education: you will not succeed without us, and at the end of day, you must deal with us as partners in progress or your failure is all but signed, and your alleged educational proposal is dead upon arrival. You have my word on it.
Hon. Minister of Education, we, the principals, administrators and teachers of schools will faithfully, meticulously and religiously adhere to the February – November 2015 published and distributed academic calendar. Thus, you will have personally close down every private school in Liberia to the hurt of our children.
Mr. Minister of Education, we really want you to adequately respond to the following questions with regards to your short cut educational reform.
- What is your area/field of specialization?
- Have you ever served as a classroom teacher or a school administrator?
- What is the timetable or time-line for your educational reform program?
- Is it tailored for the time you will be in office?
- What is the price tag for your envisioned educational reform program?
- Are you planning to have a national conference, very soon, to which members of the National School Principals association, National Teachers Association, educational interest groups, civil society groups and representatives of our tribal leaders will be invited, to thoroughly discuss our messy educational system and your purported plan to address same, as enshrined in your published “Proposal for Change”?
In conclusion, I cannot resist the urge to ask the inevitable question — is this the same Mr. Lewis Brown, who lambasted, lampooned and spoke despairing of our audacious President, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is more honorable and indeed magnanimous? But for Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Hon. Minister of Information sits today where he is, profusely singing meaningless praises over time and barking at the rest of us, from his bully pulpit, during scheduled press conferences: such is the time and such are the conditions.
The Hon. Education and Information Ministers you are not fully aware that, most if not all of our children, whom the both of you were appointed to serve are keenly listening and watching all that you are doing, which may imperil their academic future, if we standby supinely and do nothing? But this we vow never to allow, Mr. Education Minister.
Mr. Minister of Education, who are some of the educational specialists or reformers that you have studied in recent time?
Let me recommend few of them and their books for your perusal: consider the following:
- Children as Pawns: the Politics of Educational Reform
Author: Timothy A. Hacsi
- Brookings Papers On Education
Author: Diana Ravitch
- The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America
Author: Jonathan Kozol
- No Child Left Behind? The Politics and Practice of School Accountability
Authors: Paul E. Peterson and Martin R. West
- Accelerated Learning For the 21St Century Authors: Cohn Rose and Malcolm J. Nicholl
- Public School Early Childhood Programs Edited by: Cynthia Warger
- American Education
Author: Joel Spring
- Public Education an Autopsy Author: Myron Lieherman
- Transforming Schools Edited By: Peter W. Cookson, Jr.
- Educational Research, An Introduction
Author: Walter R. Borg 11 .An Education For our Time
Author: Josiah Bunting, III
- Government Nannies the Cradle – To The – Grave Agenda of Goals 2000 and Outcome Based Education
Author: Cathy Duffy