By Patrick Tokpah
Citizens of Kokoyah, Panta-Kpai and Gbarnga Educational Districts of Bong County have presented a petition statement to the office of the County’s Superintendent, as well as the County Education Officer, in which they lamented the deplorable condition of the educational system.
Reading the statement on behalf of the Citizens, Student Dorris Dolo of the Nathaniel Varney Massaquoi High School in Gbarnga, said they have observed with deep concerns the current deplorable state of the educational system in the county.
The Citizens outlined infrastructure, insufficient furniture for classrooms and offices, limited trained and qualified teachers in the classroom, limited textbooks, limited Libraries, absolutely no laboratory, very poor or bad supervision and lack of monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are some of the major challenges facing the Liberian Educational sector.
According to the petitioners, in July of 2018, the Community Development Research Agency (CODRA) conducted a series of engagements with educational stakeholders, including physical assessments on school facilities, meetings with school authorities and educational administrators at both the Districts and Country levels, in order to identify challenges facing the school system in Liberia.
The Citizens stated during these engagements, education emerged as the leading priority for socio-economic transformation, along with economy and roads.
They at the same time said the Liberia Accountability and Voices Initiative (LAVI) conducted a political economic analysis on the education sector in July 2017 which identified issues such as poor teaching system and poor classroom management as root causes of problems faced by Liberia education system; adding that these challenges are complex and require a coordinated approach at multiple levels for improvement of the system.
“We are hoping that this petition will stimulate the county leadership to mobilize all stakeholders at the county level to work with the Liberian government to break with the past and ensure that the annual national budget reflects on the implementation of the Liberia Education Reform Act of 2011, so as to deliver quality education in Liberia,” the citizens said.
The Citizens who represent the Parent Teacher Association recommended the following to be considered: that the government of Liberia should fully implement the 2011 Education Reform Act Chapter 9.1 which obligates national government as the primary financier of public schools in Liberia, and that 60% of the signatures fees for all agreements should go directly towards education.
They said the government of Liberia should increase the education budget to minimum 20% as enshrined in the Darkar framework of 2014 of which Liberia is a signatory to, adding this framework require all member states to allocate a minimum of 20% of its annual national budget to education and this in Liberia is yet to be realized.
The Citizens also want members of the Bong County Legislative Caucus through their individual Districts legislative projects appropriate money for the construction of a modern public library with in the city of Gbarnga for students.
The Citizens further said there is need to fully implement chapters four and six of the 2011 Education Reform Act which calls for the licensing of teachers and the setting of the County School Board as well as the setting of the District School Boards.
Receiving the petition on behalf of the County, Bong County acting Superintendent Anthony B. Sheriff lauded the citizens for their farsightedness in recognizing some of the challenges facing the county educational system.
Hon. Sheriff commenting on the construction of a modern library in the county, he said in the just ended November 12, 2018 County Council Setting a sum of 75 thousand United States Dollars was allocated for the construction of a modern library in Gbarnga.
He at the same time called on the citizens to remain calm in the county on grounds that he will do everything possible in addressing their plight under the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development in meeting the educational need of its citizens in the county.