Desoe Town Public School in Grand Bassa County Faces Challenges

Desoe Town, Grand Bassa County –  Emmanuel Moore is becoming frustrated every day that passes by; his hope of providing education for over 160 students at the only primary school in Desoe Town is vanishing.

Report by Alpha Daffae Senkpeni,

The school risks closure because of its poor condition, Moore fears.

Everything is in tatters: there’s lack of chairs and backboards, the roof blowing off, the paint peeling off the wall and pests are eating up the ceilings and woods – and even recently donated text books.

Committed pupils have to carry benches from home every school day; while the others roam around during school hours.

Sometimes, there are scuffles amongst students over the ownership of broken armchairs. 

Classes are grouped in pairs. “Because of the situation here,” Moore explains.

“We put first and second graders on that side of the room; 3rd, 4th and 5th grade on that other side and 6th graders are placed in the next room and in the other partition, is where you have all ABC students,” he added.

Locally made mats are used to rooms in the shanty concrete building into class rooms, making it difficult to prevent a class in one class from disturbing the next session.  

Moore has worked at Desoe Town Public School since 2004, at the time when locals were returning after the second phase of the Liberian civil war.

“The need for primary education for kids around here became every high, so we had to reopen the school,” he said.

Desoe Town is one of the highly populated towns in District #3 C, also known as Nyuwein Administrative District.

The town, off the main St. John River road bordering Bong County, also faces deplorable road condition but has a huge population including hundreds of school age kids.

The only school serving the town has been around since 1978.

The building itself was transformed from a warehouse into a school building after construction works on a public clinic in the area by the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY) end successfully.

Fast forward to 2016, the school’s inconspicuous past still hunts its pupils and faculty. With just one employed teacher, a supplementary teacher and three volunteers, the principal says the problems are overwhelming.

“The first major problem the school is facing is lack of teachers,” Moore says, adding that the community is not supporting the school.

“They (community) are not putting efforts for these volunteer teachers to stay in the class and teach their children.”

“I want the community to try and work with me, at least let us do some projects so that my volunteer teachers will be willing and have the passion to teach.”

Robert Desoe, the PTA Chair, admits the numerous challenges at the school and says the association is preparing to build benches for the school. He also complained that the community is uncooperative saying:

“They don’t have interest in school; they are making money but anything you tell them to buy – even uniform for their children, they don’t want to do it.”

The situation at the Desoe Town Public School is happening amidst government’s implementation of a private public partnership for schools which is at its pilot stage in the country.

The challenges dogging Liberia’s education system are massive and the situation is increasingly detrimental for pupils in rural Liberia.

When Minister George Warner assumed the ministry he promised to improve the condition of schools in rural Liberia – where he said kids were sitting on the floor of depilated school buildings. 

Despite the challenges at Desoe Town, teachers are committed.

Moore accused the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of being ineffective, and said his administration has presented the school’s plight to the district education office and several county lawmakers and officials – but all to no avail.

When the DEO recently visited the school, Moore says, she snubbed his attempt to outline the challenges.

“They come on assessment and I show them the area and they say ‘we will see what government will do’, throughout they keep promising and it has been long we can’t see no action,” he said.

He wants the school authority to do a proper assessment of the school in order to remedy the situation.

For the past ten years he has led the school, Moore says he’s not even on the Ministry of Education’s payroll.

This is breaking him down and he worries that if he leaves the school it might collapse. But he’s also losing hope in the lackadaisical attitudes of parents in the area.

“The parents are not committed, most especially the PTA is responsible. They don’t want to get together and do things generally for the kids,’ he said, adding that moves to mitigate the situation have all failed.

Moore said the school gets regular food supply from WFP.

Transporting the stock to the school is costly, but he reckons that it’s worth doing because the food program helps keep the kids in school. With 100 male students and 163 females this academic, Moore says it surpasses last year’s 135 total enrollment.

With the least hope in government, he thinks the community, with the help of other philanthropists and private citizens hailing from the area can rescue the school which he said, will help give the kids in the area education.

EducationGrand Bassa CountyWerner
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