By C. Winnie Saywah-Jimmy
The Ministry of Education says its decision to close all schools across the country by July 31, 2015 remains unchanged but that there can be promotions in every class based on the professional judgment of schools’ principals. The Education Ministry’s decision was drawn from a one day consultative meeting held at the Monrovia City Hall yesterday to find a cut-off point between the recent decision derived by the 2015 Joint Education Sector Review and the concerns still being raised by some private schools and students regarding the closure of schools.
Most schools are closed currently for either the Independence Day celebrations, the first academic semester or based on the Minister’s previous pronouncement for the closure of schools as part of the Ministry of Education’s new reform plans that schools close and be opened in September.
Announcing the decision of the Ministry, Education Minister George Werner said there can be promotion of all students based on attainment including the 9th and 12th graders only that they will have to meet the criteria of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) before graduation.
Minister Werner reminded that WAEC has consented to adjust its time for the administration of its exams for 2014/2015 and that those who are required to sit the exams under such criteria must attend the extra classes that will be offered by the Ministry of Education.
The Education boss said that the WEAC has agreed to credit the students so that no one student sitting the exams will pay and that those who have paid their second semester tuition already will be given some consideration as they are liaising with private schools’ administrations.
He therefore urged the lawmakers to organize a public hearing in which the Ministry of Education will make a full presentation of Liberia’s educational system as well as provide testimonies adding, “Politics will not help this situation.”
Minister Werner said so many things need to be considered in the educational sector and that the Ministry of Education has a guideline for accreditation but that has not been monitored therefore must be reviewed as well as the subsidy given to schools because there are so many schools on MoE’s subsidy and that should not be the case.
Minister Werner informed the educational stakeholders that the decision is final and will be conveyed to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for onward consultation with the members of the National Legislature.
Earlier, having listened to the Buchanan declaration and responses from private schools, student representative, County Education Officer, County School Boards, PTA and international partners on the ‘Improving the schooling after the Ebola’ policy, President Sirleaf who had graced the meeting based on invitation reminded the participants that change always come with difficulties.
President Sirleaf said judging from speeches from almost all of the representatives, she is convinced that the educational system needs reform; a reform that would lead to quality education and noted that it might not take 1 month, two to five years but it has to start now taking into consideration that there will be challenges.
She said regardless of the infrastructure,quality education touches alland change takes a little bit of sacrifice that on will have to give something up in exchange for a bigger thing therefore the foundation has to be laid now if there should be reform in the educational system.
Meanwhile, the Buchanan declaration among other things observed that education has not been given the requisite budgetary priority and called on government to make progressive investments in commitment to education in the country.
The declaration stated that the views and concerns of the Ministry of Education, the CSOs, Education donor and partners, the National Teachers’ Association, Private School System, the National Advisory Board, the WEAC and the National Principal Association agreed that the educational system will no longer accept low achievements.
According to the drafters, the declaration was built on the Education Law of 2011, the operational Plan of 2014-2016, a series of 15 county consultations and the results of technical working groups across the six thematic areas.