By: Joseph Titus Yekeryan (Bong County Correspondent)
A group of students under the banner “Concerned Students Alliance” in Bong County, wants the Liberian government to reopen schools for all students in the country and not only 12th graders.
The Chairman of the Students’ group Ansumana Abraham Bility at a press conference held on Tuesday, July 7, announced a one-week ultimatum for schools to be open or else they will engage in what he calls a “peaceful protest.”
“We believe that this partial policy-implementation is causing more problems than it is intended to solve so we want the government to see reason and reopen our schools,” Bility said.
Sounding more vocal, Bility said if the Liberian government through the Education Ministry fails to adhere to their concerns to immediately reopen schools as of July 7, to the 14 2020, they will be left with no option but to put a halt to the ongoing preparation and classes conducted for the 12th graders who are going to school.
The group’s chairman argued that the Liberian government in late May declared a partial re-opening of churches, mosques, business, gaming, and entertainment centers that draw together a mass gathering of people.
He however said 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.”
Also speaking, the General Secretary of the group, Emmanuel Gesee said over the past months since the closure of schools due to the outbreak of the virus in Mid-March, there have been unintended and unmeasured consequences that continue to victimize school goers in Liberia.
Mr. Gesee disclosed that there is a rapid increase in the number of teenage pregnancies, gender-based violence, rape, gambling activities amongst young people many of whom are students.
“You will agree with me that the correlation is a negatively strong one; that is, the longer students are out of school the higher the risk of occurrence of these supra listed social vices” Mr. Gesee added.
The Ministry of Education has repeatedly said in several press releases that the decision to reopening schools is based on advisement from health authorities in the country.