By: Joseph Titus Yekeryan (Bong County Correspondent)
It was a scene of a demonstration at the office of the Ministry of Education Bong County chapter on Tuesday morning when a group of students barricaded the entrance and demanded the reopening of schools at the university level.
The students’ group under the banner ‘Bong Concerned Students Alliance’ locked the gate that provides entrance to the MOE compound and chanting slogans.
They also held up placards bearing the inscriptions “open schools for all, we want our schools to be opened,” amongst others.
The Chairman of the group Ansumana Bility said it is a complete violation of the students’ rights for the Liberian government to close schools while other institutions are opened to the public.
Mr. Bility said it is unpleasant on the part of the government to allow Political Party primaries and blind its eyes on the reopening of schools at the university level.
He told KMTV, they believe that selecting a ‘negligible’ segment of the schooling population of Liberia comprising the 12th graders does not in any way solve the ongoing crisis but further deepens the magnitude of Liberia’s post-COVID-19 social and economic backlashes.
“We see the closure of schools not just as a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also as an attempt to undermine the reformed education act of 2011, which was approved on August 8, the same year,” Bility said.
The protesting students resisted and denied the County Educational Officer Rev. Armah Varfee from entering the compound upon his arrival.
The Bong County Education Officer later appealed to the students to restore calm as he exerts efforts to swiftly remedy the situation. “I don’t think that the government is happy to take the decision it took months back. Every good government wants the betterment of its Country and that’s exactly what our government has been doing. All we can say to you is that we will keep pushing your concerns to them and we can assure you that the Ministry will provide positive answers for you,” Mr. Varfee said.
In July of last year, the same students’ group petitioned the Ministry of Education on the reopening of school at all levels but the Ministry in its recent release did not mention institutions of higher learning.
The Ministry in its statement said “following recent consultation with the health authorities, the Ministry of Education wishes to officially announce the reopening of schools for additional levels from 6th grade to 11th grade. The reopening is aimed at first completing the end of the Academic Calendar for 2019/2020 and the preparation for the new academic year 2020/2021.”
The admittance of students into physical school will be implemented in phases beginning with 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th graders and followed by 10th and 11th graders. The Early Childhood Education level to 5th grade will not be enrolled in physical activities to complete the 2019/2020 academic year as more review is to be conducted.