Liberia: Leaky Roofs and Lack of Chairs, Chalk Delay School Opening in Bong


Gbarnga, Bong County – Students at Bong County’s two largest high schools are out of school because some of their classrooms have leaky roofs, while others have no roofs.

Report by Selma Lomax, [email protected]

Students around the country returned to school on Monday, September 3, but Bong County officials suspended classes indefinitely at Dolokelen Gboveh High School and John F. Barkalu because they don’t want students sitting in flooded classrooms.

Dolokelen Gboveh High School has an enrollment of 980 students and John F. Barkalu has 1,080 students, said Wesseh Zoryou, Principal of Dolokelen Gboveh High School and Josiah B. Kollie, Vice Principal for Administration of John F. Barkalu School.

“Classes have been suspended indefinitely for three tenth-grade sections and one 11th grade section because of the leaks,” Zoryou added.

Of the school’s 980 students, 244 students can’t sit in classes because the classrooms are leaking.

“We are still trying to renovate classes that were affected by the storm last month,” said Zoryou.

The school year is off to a slow start in Bong County because of the roofless schools, the lack of chalks, chairs and other instructional materials, said Armah Ndebeh Varfee, County Education Officer.

“The opening of school is postponed because the county has not received school supplies from the Ministry of Education,” CEO Varfee added.

In addition, the county does not have money to repair the schools.

The county’s 21 public schools have an enrollment of 30,000 students.

Leaky classrooms are one of the major problems affecting the school during this Rainy Season.

“We can’t have the students sitting in classes without roofs, especially during the Rainy Season,’’ Zoryou said.

Only 200 of the 1,500 chairs at the school are in good condition, he added.

“There are more students than the number of chairs that are in good shape,” Zoryou said, adding: “We can’t begin school and students be sitting on the floor.”

David Borkay, principal of John F. Barkalu, said the lack of chairs, chalks and other instructional materials is an embarrassment.

The Parents Teachers Association (PTA) has planned a rally to raise money to support the school.

“The PTA of our school is raising money to help us buy chalks and other essential instructional materials,” he said.

The school has 300 chairs for its 1,080 students. About 157 of the 300 chairs are damaged, Borkay said.

The school, he said, cannot afford to rehabilitate the classrooms.

Borkay called on the Ministry of Education to intervene quickly to address the situation.

“This thing is serious,” he stressed. “No chairs and chalks? We can’t do anything now, but waiting on the Ministry of Education.”

Parents are also frustrated about the leaky roofs and lack of instructional materials and chairs.

Public schools are always off to a slow start because of the ministry’s delay in sending instructional materials to schools in the county.

Jeremiah McCauley has two children at Dolokelen Gboveh High School.

According to him, the PTA is not responsible to raise money for chalks, chairs and instructional materials.

“This is wrong,” he said. “The government should be willing to address the concerns of schools. This is what we paid our taxes for.”

McCauley said he would launch a campaign to collect US$1,000 every year to buy instructional materials for students at Gboveh.

Varfee, the county education officer, urged students, parents and school officials to be patient because he is working with the Ministry to get the supplies to the schools.

“I know about all the constraints public schools are facing, but those concerns will be addressed as soon as possible,’’ he assured.