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Liberia’s Education “Mess”: Another Proof in Grand Kru County—Home Town of Liberia’s #1 & #3 Powerful Persons

This article ends with recommendations.
I am a Grand Kruan.
In her State of the Nation Address in 2015, Liberia’s Head of State Ellen Johnson Sirleaf described the Country’s “entire” education system a “complete mess”.
Some of the justifications given by President Sirleaf were: (majority of) High School students’ inability to communicate via writing with grammatical and spelling correctness; (many) teachers’ lack of understanding of subjects assigned to them to impart into students, which are reflected on their poor presentations on these subjects; and irregular monitoring of teachers’ performances in the classroom by education authorities (Ministry of Education and local leadership)
Some persons, however, were accusing President Sirleaf of being the ‘chief architect’ of the “mess” she had talked about. The accusers’ hinged their opinions on several premises. Three of the bases are: It is the President who had appointed the head of the Ministry of Education constitutionally authorized to ‘monitor’ teachers (except those of private schools) in classrooms, and she had authority to sack the Education Minister (on continuous poor performance by government’s teachers); the Administration of President Sirleaf had enough ‘educational funding’ (much coming from the World Bank, the U.S. Government and UNICEF, and several other international education development Institutions) to institute mechanisms the ‘cleanse’ the education “mess”—long time ago before she made such condemnatory statement.
Others argued that, by condemning Liberia’s ‘entire’ education system, Head of State Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has condemned her highly publicized academic knowledge (acquired at Harvard University, USA) to transform a system from ‘bad’ to ‘good’ and has also condemned Western Nations’ education-related confidence (in form of huge financial support) in her to transform the education system of her country. The Head of State has also condemned her government’s educational initiative— National Reading Campaign (launched in 2013), hugely sponsored by the U.S. Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) The objective of this initiative was to inspire and motivate Liberia’s school children to “love reading”, but the President complained that most school kids could not read a sentence in their Reading Books (Part of her statements in her State of the Nation Address) So, were the hyped ‘reading-promotion’ ‘methodologies’—including erecting huge billboards—with photos of top government officials (including Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai) reading—in each of Liberia’s fifteen Counties were a fiasco?

Liberia’s first Graduate in any Western University was Plenyonnoh Wollor, affectionately called ‘P.G. Wollor’, in whose memory a Senior High School in Grand Kru County is named. He graduated—with Honors—from Harvard University in the United States of America. Several other Grand Kruans have followed in P.G. Wollor’s outstanding academic foot prints, in Liberian institutions or in schools in foreign lands. They had excelled in their respective fields of studies as P.G. Wollor did in his. (I left out names of the ‘followers’ in this article to avoid my being branded ‘bias’ by some readers on my leaving out ‘some names’ due to space limitation. Hundred-plus names can’t fit here—except I’m writing a ‘biographical book’ on these great sons and daughters of the County)
However, the County’s ‘pioneering educational legacy’ in Liberia has nosedived….

Anyone on a mission to confirm Liberia’s education “mess” in this modern age, as described by President Ellen Sirleaf (now bearing the ‘former’ title since January 22, 2018), should look toward Grand Kru County for a ‘proof’. The evidence is in “reports” from the West African Examination Council (WAEC) on exams for High Schools in each of Liberia’s 15 Counties.
For the 2015/2016 WAEC’s exams, four High Schools in the County sent representatives (sitters), but all the students of each High School failed in all the nine subjects. The Schools represented were: Barclayville Central High School, Garraway Central High School, P.G. Wolor High School, and Sasstown High School. Only Grand Kru had this record among Counties of Liberia.
On this “mass failure”, Grand Kru County’s Legislative Caucus—a body of the County’s official spokespersons in the Lower and Upper Chambers of the National Legislature—quickly organized a Press Conference, where the body “shifted blame” to the Minister of Education, George K. Werner, another Grand Kruan, for the students’ disgraceful performance. The body accused the Minister for ‘poor monitoring’ of public High Schools and refusal to dismiss the County’s Education Officer (CEO), Mr. Tenesio Bloh Doyen, who the Caucus said had been paying much attention to his personal ‘political venture’ (campaigning in 2017 for his entry into Liberia’s Parliament in 2018), instead of doing the ‘educational job’ he had been appointed to do. The County’s Legislative Caucus in 2017 comprised: Hon. Peter S. Coleman (Senator), Hon. Albert Tugbe Chie (Senator), Hon. George Wisseh Blamoh (Representative, District #1) and Hon. Numene Bartekwa (Representative, District #2)
Through his Social Media platform, the Education Minster replied to the Legislative Caucus: You are always in the County, directly or through a representative stationed there, so you had known, at first-hand, problems that would cause the ‘mass failure’ one day. I’m not in the County.
Each of the four Grand Kru County’s High Schools—whose students failed in all the subjects in WAEC’s exams—is in a different statutory district of the County, which is the ancestral home of Liberia’s #1 Powerful Person (current Head of State George Manneh Weah) and Liberia’s current #3 Powerful Person (current President of Liberia’s Senate, Senator Albert Tugbe Chie)
For the 2016/2017 WAEC’s exams, the same four High Schools (listed above) sent respective representatives, but only two students (of Barclayville Central High School) passed. The successful students’ names are: Kieh Wesseh and Fred Wisseh. Only Grand Kru had this record among Counties of Liberia. Each of the other
Counties had more than two students on WAEC’s ‘pass list’.
I met both boys (Kieh and Fred) in Grand Kru County in 2017 during my one-month visit, and later wrote a news story about each person’s educational challenges (while in school) and academic success. A local newspaper—FrontPage Africa—published the story.
However, the boys were not celebrated by the County’s leaders (Legislative Caucus included) for ‘taking shame off the County’ from ‘mass failure’ in previous WAEC’s exam.
Over a year after the boys’ pass in WAEC, none of them could find money to enter a University for academic advancement. And none of the “concerned” Legislative Caucus members came out to help.

For the 2018/2019 edition of the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) exams, Grand Kru County earned the HIGHEST POINT among Liberia’s High Schools in terms of number of students that failed all subjects (9). Only ONE STUDENT—of Barclayville Central High School—passed. For the other High Schools, all the students FAILED IN ALL THE SUBJECTS. Only Grand Kru had this record among Counties of Liberia. Each of the other Counties has at least ‘two students’ on WAEC’s ‘pass list’.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) has prohibited ‘graduation party’ by each of the High Schools whose students failed in all subjects. The total number of ‘warned Schools’ is forty-six (46)
WAEC’s ID Numbers for Grand Kru County’s representatives on the failed-in-all-subjects list are as follows: Sasstown High School (206102), P.G. Wollor High School (2061008), and Garraway Central High School (2061012). On the Ministry of Education’s no-graduation list, the following ID numbers are assigned: Sasstown High School (36), P.G. Wollor High School (30), and Garraway Central High School (17)


GEORG MANNEH WEAH (Professions: Soccer & Business Management)

Head of State George Manneh Weah (Liberia’s #1 Powerful Person) of Grand Kru County on an ‘education’ billboard
President George Manneh Weah (pictured above) is a native of Grand Kru County, via paternal lineage (from the side of his father)
The only High School in his part of the County, Sasstown, has been failing in all WAEC’s exams, from 2015, and repeated same in WASSCE (2018/2019).
However, many people would exonerate—or forgive—the Head of State on the education “mess” in the County due to his ‘strangeness’ to the County and on his ‘shallow knowledge’ of the ‘chronic educational problems’ in the County. On ‘strangeness’, Mr. Weah has visited the County only one time, in 2017, when he was a Senator of another County, Montserrado, and on his nationwide presidential election campaign. He only ‘passed through’—while en route to Monrovia from Maryland County. He spent only few hours in the County’s capital (Barclayville City) for interaction with Grand Kruans for their votes during voting time that was months ahead.
His second ‘physical connection’ with the County will—or may—be during the Opening of his ‘Pro-Poor Housing Units’ (for poor persons) currently being constructed in his paternal hometown: Sasstown.

ALBERT TUGBE CHIE (Profession: Geologist)
Liberia’s Senate President Albert Tugbe Chie (Liberia’s #3 Powerful Person) of Grand Kru County.

President of the Senate, Senator Albert Tugbe Chie (pictured above), is ancestrally linked to Grand Cess, a Town, hosting P.G. Wollor High School that has been failing all the subjects in WAEC (since 2015) and repeated same in WASSCE (2018/2019)
Before ascending to the position of Senate Protempore, Senator
Tugbe had always been award of Grand Kru County’s ‘educational rot’. He was in the Legislature when all representatives of all the County’s four High Schools failed in all the subjects in WAEC (2015/2016) and he was part of the Press Conference by the County’s Legislative Caucus on the ‘mass failure’ of the County’s High Schools in WAEC!
In the Liberian Parliament, locally called National Legislature, which is my focus for this article, Grand Kru County has the following (other) prominent Parliamentarians (of the 54th Legislature) with various Professional backgrounds: Senator Peter S. Coleman—Surgeon (Chairman, Senate’s Committee on Health & Gender), Representative Nathaniel N. Bahway, Sr.—Medic (District #1, Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Internal Affairs), and Representative Jonathan Fonati Koffa—Lawyer(District #2, Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Judiciary)
The only High School in Hon. Bahway’s hometown, Garraway, is on WAEC’s list of s
During my four-week visit in my parents’ homes (Gbanken and Zoloken), two infrastructurally deprived Towns of Grand Kru County, in 2017, I visited most parts of the County and came in contact with the County’s ‘chronic educational problems’ in all places I had the opportunity of seeing. My mission was to share assortment of Text Books to Elementary Schools and to view ‘educational situations’ in the County, which I would later ‘record’, in writing.
As a guest in Elementary Schools, I saw one teacher touring between three classes ‘assigned to him’.
“Here, you are seeing one teacher handling more than one subject, because only three teachers are in this School,” Mr. Peter Jeh, Vice Principal for Academic Affairs, of the Zoloken Elementary & Junior High School, a Government’s institution, said to me during my visit at his institution. “Because of the insufficient teaching staff here, I handle Mathematics, and sometimes English,” he added.
Elementary and Junior High Schools in Gbaken and Ylatwen (Towns) were both sharing the ‘insufficient teaching staff’ issue at the Zoloken Elementary & Junior High School, which is located in the Grand Cess-Wedabo Statutory District.
At some Elementary Schools, I saw Junior and Senior High School students teaching, struggling with explanation of the lesson from a Ministry of Education-endorsed Book, while the kids looks on puzzled. Some teachers were simplifying the lesson in the dialect spoken in the Town, and some of the students ruptured into ecstasy of ‘understanding the lesson more clearly now’.
I met the Elementary School in Juduken, another Town, closed down. During my visit in Grand Kru County, Juduken was inaccessible by car, motorcycle, or car, and I trekked over five hours from the County’s capital, Barclayville, to reach there. My other purpose in this Town was to interview inhabitants on an orally reported murder by a man on his colleague over woman’s matter.
“The Juduken Elementary School has been closed down because the teachers have left on no-salary,” my host in Juduken explained to me.
Students’ performances during an Academic Contest—between a group of graduates and current Senior Class—at the Barclayville Central High School, in the County’s capital, showed me a ‘chronic academic handicap’, which I was told, after the event, was common with all other Senior High Schools in the County. None of the contesting students could answer any of the questions on Mathematics, and no one could correctly tell which of the Eight Parts of Speech the word ‘beautifully’ belong. Some contestants said “verb”; some said “noun”. Only one contestant came closer to the right answer. “Adjective!” the student shouted when the Contest’s Moderator repeated the question: “What part of the eight part of speech does this word belong?”
No-one could remember “Adverb” as the right answer.
The person who came closer to the right answer was a current ‘old student’ (12th grader)
Prior to the start of the contest, a male official of the School introduced me as “a son of this soil, Grand Kru County, who also is a writer, journalist, and publisher of an education newspaper.”
After the contest, a white lady walked up to me, and introduced herself as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer assigned to the School to teach. “Some of my colleagues are teaching in other High Schools in the County,” she added during our conversation. We became friends and exchanged phone numbers.
Several things are responsible for the dismal performance of students of Grand Kru County’s Schools in the test set by West African Examination Council (WAEC). I will provide a list based on my ‘Scale of Preference’ of the factors.
The first is weak foundation of teaching: Students at the Elementary level are not equipped with the requisite academic knowledge for them to excel at the higher stage of the academic ladder. They are being ‘trained’ by persons (teachers) who are academically inexperienced or who don’t give their ‘best’ based on personal reasons.
Low salary for the teachers, which are not commiserate with their ‘teaching time’ and professional input: The teacher’s ’employer’ (Government of Liberia or private business person) is ‘stingy’ or ‘insensitive’ to the teacher’s ‘welfare’.
Lack of monitoring by the ’employer’: Teachers are ‘dropped’ into classrooms and are ‘forgotten’ for (most part) of the academic year. Grand Kru County’s public education sector, for example, is less-monitored by the Central Office of the MOE (in Monrovia) due to the terrible conditions of motorable roads in the County. Some members of the County’s Education Office told me during my one-month visit that most of the monitors sent by the Central Office don’t enter into the County. They stop in Maryland County, a neighbor to Grand Kru, and prepare reports of their ‘Findings’—based on telephone conversations with their ‘contact persons’ living in Grand Kru.

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