Liberia: Public Schools in Nimba Lack Teachers, As MOE Collects Fees, But Hasn’t Sent Any Instructional Materials

Kindergarten kids at Garr Whipa Public School in District #2 sitting on the floor

Ganta, Nimba County – More than 40 public elementary schools in Nimba County’s 17 Administrative Districts lack teachers while some are being controlled by just single instructors. In addition to this ‘mess’, is also the lack of instructional materials coupled with the collection of tuition fees by the Ministry of Education. 

Mr. Rancy Kellikpo, Gowee Public School’s principal, registrar and lone instructor of kindergarten to grade 5, has at least 300 students to cater to in the school, which is just 3 kms from the ever-lively Ganta, Nimba County. 

The Gowee principal told FrontPageAfrica that he had brought in another fellow to help him but his assistant didn’t feel motivated and so he left him alone. 

Mr. Kellikpo told our Nimba County correspondent that he is forced to occupy multiple roles in the state-run institution due to the lack of administrators and teaching staff.

Performing such tasks is a huge challenge, but, there is no alternative at the moment.

According to Mr. Kellikpo, he has gone to most houses in search of people to volunteer themselves to come and teach their own children but has found no one willing.

Gowee Public School was built by the District #1 Representative Jeremiah Koung and was turned over to the government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Education.

FrontPageAfrica, through our Nimba Correspondent, visited over 40 public schools in the nine electoral districts (17 administrative) and found out that all these state-run institutions lack teachers. 

The principal of Zekeh Memorial High School in Zekepa, District #9, Mr. Moses Norbain, informed this newspaper that since the 2019/2020 academic year began, the teacher, who taught the kindergarten section last school year, hasn’t been back; so that section is without any teacher at moment.

Principal Norbain also disclosed that the school lacks Economics, Biology, Math, Chemistry and Physics teachers for the senior high division.

“I visit all of the classes, but I am a single person, so when I am in one class and students in the other classes are causing noise, I do not listen to their noise, because they know that I cannot divide myself to be all over the places.”

– A Principal who asked for anonymity

He called on the Ministry of Education to send those teachers as students in the 12 grade will have to sit the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in a few months’ time.

The lack of instructors for those very important subjects wasn’t’ unique to Zekeh Memorial, principles of other public schools in the county also told FrontPageAfrica how they are lacking other administrative staffs, including teachers for English, Science, Arithmetic, Bible, Reading, writing, Phonics, Arts and Physical Education among others subjects, which are prescribed by the Ministry of Education for elementary and junior high levels.

Some of the principles said they are forced to teach two to three subjects.

“I visit all of the classes, but I am a single person, so when I am in one class and students in the other classes are causing noise, I do not listen to their noise, because they know that I cannot divide myself to be all over the places,” one of the principals said.

A public school in District Number 4

Schools that have at least one or two teachers were Gbowee Public School, Busie Public School, Whipa Public School and Zekeh Memorial High School, and Gbao Darvoyee Public School, which is at least 8 kms away from Sanniquellie, the capital city of Nimba County.

Schools in Gbi-Doru District, Kpablee Clan in district #6 and 20 other towns in other districts are among public schools hugely lacking teachers. 

During our tour of the county, it was observed that because of the lack of teachers, parents preferred taking their children with them to their farms. Some children were, however, seen playing loosely during school hours.

According to Josephus Flomo, youth leader of Kpanpa Town, near the Yard River in District #8, the town has not less than 500 school-going kids, who don’t have any school. This is a similar situation with kids in Garr Gleain, another town in District #2, according to Eric Domah, who is the development chair of the town.

During the tour, our correspondent found at Garr Whipa Public School, near Sanniquellie, most of the kids were sitting on the floor due to the lack of chairs.

At the Alternative Basic Education (ABE) Extension in Ganta’s Tokay Hill Community, the principal, Mr. Lawrence Jah, told this newspaper that the state-run school owns a little more than L$100,000 as rent for the building being used.

Mr. Jah also stated that all the furniture being used by the school came from the Parents Teachers Association fees.

According to him, the MOE just assigned them and has not provided any supply.

According to him, he has to always use his own cash to buy teaching materials, including chalk.

There are at least 992 schools, including 481 public schools, in Nimba County.

During our tour of the county, we were told by principals that the Ministry of Education instructed them to collect L$3000 (US$17) from each student in the senior high division, L$2000 (US$11) from students in the junior high, while L$1000 (US$7) was collected from kids in the elementary division.

According to these principles, they sent the monies collected to the Ministry via mobile money. However, some said the Ministry sent back to them “very little amount” for them to use and buy instructional materials for use by them.

Nimba County’s County Education Officer

Nimba County’s County Education Officer (CEO), Mr. Moses Dologbay told FrontPageAfrica that since the academic year began, no public school has received supplies from the Ministry of Education.

CEO Dologbay also confirmed that the Ministry did instruct schools to collect the specified amounts.

Parents’ Reactions

During the tour, some parents complained that they are being told to pay fees under President George Manneh Weah’s administration they were only used to just buy their children’s uniforms and copybooks during the last administration.

Parents Samuel Roberts and Edith Dolo in Saclepea after a recent PTA meeting, told FrontPageAfrica that they had gotten used to just sending their children at the beginning of the school year without paying any school fees but are now being told to pay fees.