The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Where Is The Voice For The Liberian Students???

By Rev. Dr. Leo Simpson, Administrator/Principal
Haywood Mission Institute

It is opined and abundantly true that, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” No reasonable and sound person be he/she educated or not be he/she rich or poor will disagree that, it is not good to squander one’s mind, the super duper computer, which God has divinely endowed us with.

It is without a shadow of doubt that, the vicious and murderous COVID 19 PANDEMIC seriously disrupted the worldwide system of education: As a direct consequence, the doors of all schools were forced shut.

The Government of Liberia is not to be blamed for the closure of schools in the country, the nefarious COVID 19 is the indisputable culprit.

The Government of Liberia acted rather decisively, prudently and appropriately, by closing down all of the schools in Liberia, with the sincere optimism of saving the precious and irreplaceable lives of our amazing students and the valued employees of all schools. So, I must be hasting to tell the Liberian Government BRAVO! BRAVO! BRAVO!!

It is lucid that, there is a ray of hope, which has appeared upon the horizon throughout the COVID19 imprisoned world. A distinguishable bright light of hope has appeared, in the darkest and assumed miserable COVID19 night.

As I have been the unwilling prisoner of the national and international social media, to harvest relevant information with regards to the gradual opening up of some of the devastated nations of the world, and to have learnt that, some schools are reopening with modest and reasonable health protocols, one is left to wander, as to why the deadening silence with regards to the reopening of schools in Liberia, in order for all Liberian students (K — 12) of both public and private schools can go back to school and reengage their priceless mind.
It is moot to argue that our teachers, administrators and support staff need to get back to work, in the supreme interest of a nation building, through the development of manpower, which is in woeful supply in Liberia, in the exciting and intriguing 21st Century.

Where is the unmistakable and crystal clear voice for the Liberian students, whose education that cannot wait is on indefinite hold? Where is the clarion voice of hope in the hour of hopelessness for the awesome students of our bedeviled nation? Where is that certain voice of assurance for our Liberian students, who are kept in the pitch black darkness, as when school will reopen?

It is a matter of fact that, when people are deprived of the proper/accurate information, they will sooner than later create their own alternative information, which will not serve anyone’s interest.

It doesn’t require a P1-ID degree to surmise rather quickly that, our students, their wonderful parents/guardians and sponsors are starved for news with reference to the reopening of school. They are busy checking for the news, as to when school will reopen. These anxious parents/guardians want their children to return to school.
Thank God Almighty, the Government of Liberia has extended the lockdown from 3:00PM — 6:00PM. This is a welcome news.

Seemingly, the Government of Liberia has allowed every essential and not so essential businesses, to reopen for regular business with the stipulation that the health protocols be meticulously adhered to.
Regrettably, for the school administrators, principals, teachers, support staff students and their anxious parents and guardians, the doors of all schools are firmly closed. I am certain that, most of us were very disappointed that, yet and again, the school did not make the cut, this time around.

It is without a debate that, the Government of Liberia is very much concerned about the students’ safety and security and that is very much appreciated.

However, learned scientists have made it abundantly crystal clear that, older people from 64 years and above are vulnerable, when it comes to contracting and distributing this killer COVID1 9. Are the astute scientists to be believed or not?

It is my candid view that, the places which have opened for regular business, tend to attract older people than those of school age (K 12 grades).

If supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations, restaurants, material stores, hotels, motels, guest houses, dried goods shops, amongst others are opened for regular business with the following requirements: washing of hands, wearing of face masks and social or physical distancing, why not schools?

I challenge anyone to visit Clara Town, Via Town, Duala and Kuwait open markets to mention but a few, you will observe that, social/physical distancing, hand washing and mask wearing are not the norm, to utter the least.

Has the hasty and unscientific conclusion been drawn that, if schools are allowed to reopen, the administrators, teachers, support staff, students and their parents and guardians will contract and spread COVID 19 around? In fact, the students (K — 12) are your non-vulnerable group that COVID19 seems not to like. However, they are being confined at home and some of their parents/guardians can go out, to transact business all day long and return home and mix with their children.

Is there someone in the corridors of power who is of the mindset that, school administrators, principals and teachers are woefully irresponsible, untrustworthy and incapable to provide the professional care for their students? I will not be unabashed to disabuse this sinister mindset, if such ever existed.
It is significant to observe that, most of the nations that were unimaginably buffeted by the monstrous COVID19, are gradually returning to some measured of normality. Businesses and schools have resumed operations with strict adherence to health protocols. The easing down of the lockdown is the direct result of the tempering down of the contraction, spreading and death of COV 19.

I will be remiss to think that, our government is not taking due notice and seriously thinking about the reopening of schools, to enable our VOICELESS students to get back to school and continue their arduous learning for the good of Liberia, Africa and our global village.

The Hon. Minister of Education, who recently publicly boasted on various social media about having the brightest and best minds, at the Ministry of Education has not been a positive and constructive voice for the voiceless students, who are lockdown at home, doing nothing to enhance their impeded education.
The Hon. Minister of Education has placed some unnecessary hurdles in the path of the students’ education, at such a buffeting time. He has impeded and inflamed such a traumatic situation, which confronts all of Liberian students.

Consider the 2018/2019 Minister of Education Saturday classes for all students:
which was a massive failure. The examination results of the Saturday study classes are yet to be released.

What really pains my heart and that of most school principals, administrators, teachers, students, parents and guardians is the Minister’s abrupt and unilateral termination of the epitomized study notes and questions, in all of the subjects taught for all of the students.

Most schools prepared their packages and the students or parents/guardians picked them up. The students did the work and returned their answered question papers, to their individual schools. The subject teachers corrected the students’ test papers and computed the earned grades on the schools’ official grade sheets.

As for us, at Haywood Mission Institute, 95% of our 900 students fully participated. The program was fully a resounding success. I am certain other participating schools experienced the same success.
It is regrettable that, as schools were packaging the second set of the summarized study notes and questions, the Education Minister without prior notification to school authorities, rushed to various social media and dropped his unexpected BOMB — the termination of the study notes program, which he had previously endorsed/approved. This was a stab in the back of every principal, teacher, student, parent and guardian, by our learned and Hon. Minister. He threw every one of us under the bus. We felt betrayed by our leader.

Most reasonable and well-meaning Liberians will agree with me, when I say, that, our precious and delicate students must not be allowed to perpetually sit at home in silent desperation. Mr. Minister, we all beg of you, sir, to raise to the occasion and provide the imperative, positive and progressive leadership, as the COVID19 is gradually receding worldwide.

If for any viable reason(s), to which the general public is not privilege to, that schools are not soon to be reopened, then the most rational and appropriate thing to do is to “restore the production of study notes and allow the students or parents/guardians, to report to their respective campuses and pick up their packages.” Let us not just sit in helpless, hopeless and powerless ‘prison of suspense,’ while the rest of the world is going ahead and time is not our best of friend.

Unlike the most notorious EBOLA in 2014, when schools were ordered closed down, after the first Semester: to the contrary, COVID 19 invaded Liberia, when significant number of schools were in the middle of their 5th Marking Period.

We are in a much better position today than in 2014. All that most schools are worried about are the 6th Marking Period and 2m1 Semester Examination. Better for us, we don’t give sixth marking period test, the students’ grades are derived from school/class attendance, class participation, preparation, quizzes and home assignments. In our emergency situation the study notes program should have served this purpose.

The Hon. Minister said on social media that, whenever school does reopen, he will unilaterally extend the 2019/2020 school year by two months: HERE WE GO AGAIN!! Who will pay bill for the Private schools? Why create another unnecessary problem, Mr. Minister of Education? Have we not enough problems yet?

On behalf of our voiceless students, I am kindly appealing to President George M.
Weah of Liberia, to see reason to reopen all schools, in the country with strict
stipulations for every school authority, public and private. Thank you, Mr. President.
God bless you and save our country: LIBERIA.

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