Liberia: House of Representatives Launches Inquest over ‘Declining Education System’

Plenary’s decision was in response to a communication by Rep. Dorwohn Twain Gleekia (District #6, Nimba County) seeking the House’s indulgence to invite the Minister of Education along with his deputies for Administration and Instruction to explain the ministry’s plans in addressing the multiple problems affecting the sector.

Capitol Hill, Monrovia – The House of Representatives has tasked its Committee on Education to launch an investigation into the “alarming situation” affecting the education sector.

As part of the inquest, the Committee is requested to invite the Minister of Education, Prof. Ansu Sonii, along with his principal deputies to explain measures their ministry is putting in place to address the situation.

Plenary’s decision was in response to a communication by Rep. Dorwohn Twain Gleekia (District #6, Nimba County) seeking the House’s indulgence to invite the Minister of Education along with his deputies for Administration and Instruction to explain the ministry’s plans in addressing the multiple problems affecting the sector.

According to him, following an assessment which included holding series of consultations with current and former school administrator, Parent, Teacher Associations, students and senior officials of the Ministry of Education, he gathered that the lack of textbooks and trained teachers were the fundamental problems affecting the education sector.

These ‘alarming situation’ within the education sector, Rep’ Gleekia noted, are major contributing factors to the poor performances of primary and secondary school children with a trickledown effect on the results of the West African Senior School Certification Examinations (WASSCE). 

In a brief remarks on the floor following the reading of his communication, Rep. Gleekia said: “The schools are in deplorable conditions and we need to put our feet down and put in place system.”

According to him, most of the problems may be beyond the education authorities’ reach, and as such it was prudent that they come before the House to collectively discuss the ways and mean in addressing some of the problems grappling the education sector.

Several lawmakers lauded the Nimba District #6 lawmaker for his communication and pointed out several lapses plaguing the sector in their respective constituencies.

Rep. Kanie Wesso (Distruct #2, Gbarpolu County), speaking during the floor discussion said in Gbarpolu County, the lack of teachers is hampering the smooth operation of schools; adding that in some part of the county, a teacher teaches from first to six grade, something he said was not acceptable.

According to him, an arrangement was reached with the World Bank to recruit teachers with BSc degrees but the Ministry of Education said it does not have money to pay them the required salary. He also complained that the Ministry of Education was retiring teachers and not replacing them, leaving a void in the classroom, and at the same retirees are not being paid their needed benefits.

Also joining the conversation, Rep. Joseph N. Somwarbi (District #3, Nimba County) added that retiring teachers without replacing them is also affecting the schools operating within his district. In some of the schools, he said parents are now engaging their children with at least high school education to temporarily fill in the gap left in the wake of the teachers’ retirement.

Before filing his motion, the Chairman of the Committee on Education, Rep. Johnson N. Gwaikolo (District #9, Nimba County) pointed out that textbooks and teaching materials are important components of quality education, and in their absence, quality education cannot be attainable.  Rep. Gwaikolo said he has observed that instructional time is undercut because of the short time students stay in school nowadays.

Speaking further, he frowned against the suggestion that 3rd graders should now begin to sit the WASSCE and called for the decision to be reconsidered.

According to Rep. Gwaikolo, a career educator, 3rd graders are not ready to sit a national exams because as such level, much preparation has not been made and students may suffered stage fright and defeat the very purpose of WASSCE. 

In his motion, he called on the Committee on Education to invite top officials of the Ministry of Education including the Minister and his principal deputies and report to plenary within a week. His motion was endorsed unanimously.

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