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Mr Education Minister, No Liberian Child Should Be Left Behind In Acquiring Primary Education

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THE LIBERIAN SCHOOL for the Blind is in dire strait at the moment. The fate of over 70 visually-impaired Liberian students to attend classes at the Liberian School for the Blind this academic year 2019/2020 remains uncertain. This is a result of the lack of budgetary support from the Government of Liberia (GOL) to the institution. 

THE COMMUNICATIONS Director at the Ministry of Education, Mr. Maxime Bleetahn, told this newspaper that he is unaware about the situation that the doors of the Liberian School for the Blind are at the moment still closed and that the blind, Liberian kids may not be enrolled this academic year. Bleetahn’s obliviousness is by extension the same from his bosses, the Minister, Deputy and Assistant Ministers. 

IF THEY AREN’T aware of the plight of those students, it could mean that they are either not concerned about those visually-impaired students or they just choose to pay laissez-faire with these Liberian children’s educational need, which should equally be their concerns.

THE SCHOOL is located in the Township of Virginia, outside Monrovia.

IT WAS FOUNDED 42 years ago with at the aim at providing education and psycho-social counseling to visually impaired citizens across Liberia. This is one of the oldest primary academic learning instition in the country. So, it should be among the list of schools that are prioritized by the Ministry of Education, which is now being headed by Professor Dr. Ansu Sonii. 

THE SCHOOL’S Administrative Assistant, Koiffee Johnson Willie, told this newspaper that the government is yet to provide funding to the institution since the commencement of this academic year 2019/2020.

“WE HAVE NEVER closed as a result of lack of funding. This is the first time since I been here for the past seven years. We cannot provide services to the visually impaired. Government is the sole larger funder of the school, and it has not provided funding for us to run the school. Government has to decide on our opening now. We are projecting about 75 students for this academic year,”

MR. EDUCATION MINISTER this should not be allowed to happen to the blind children or their School for the Blind. Your ministry knows that as these children are not in school now, their peers are in school and have gone far ahead this academic school year. In fact, the other kids in school have now taken their first period tests and the School of the Blind is yet to open its doors for the visually-impaired children.

MR. MINISTER, you Ministry can’t afford to turn a blind eye on these kids, who, too, deserve to be educated by their State. By not looking their way, you are not going to be fully honoring your mission statement as a Ministry. 

“THE MISSION of the Ministry of Education is to provide quality education for all and prepare future leaders who are capable of handling the task of nation building, protecting our national heritage and enhancing the socio-economic growth and development for the sustenance of the Liberian state.”

MR. MINISTER, this is sad. You need to do all in your power to get the School for the Blind’s doors reopened so that those visually-impaired Liberians can be back in school. No Liberian child should be left behind in acquiring primary education under your watch and in this 21st Century. 

THIS IS WHAT YOU have as your mission but it seems that it is only written in fine prints and not implemented in action.

THE SCHOOL for the Blind should not wholly look up to goodwill gesture including donations, and support to key programs, including feeding, from humanitarians, faith-based institutions, local and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating in Liberia and other parts of the world.

MR. MINISTER, the school has been going through a lot of challenges; especially with getting its full allotment from your Ministry. 

FOR FISCAL YEAR 2018/2019, the school for allotted the amount of US$45,000, out of the national envelope of US$526m passed by the 54th National Legislature.

OUT OF THE TOTAL amount budgeted for the institution, only US$20,000 was received by authorities of the Liberian School for the Blind.

THE ADMINISTRATIVE Assistant of the School disclosed that the amount of US$50,000 has been allotted to the school for this current Fiscal Year 2019/2020, out of the total of US$526 million.

“WE HAVE NOT RECEIVED any money for this fiscal period. The remaining from last fiscal year was not given. The left over from 2017/2018 is what we managed up to March 2019. We wrote to receive the amount of US$25,000 from the government; but we didn’t receive that. If we were able to receive that money, I am sure as administrator, we would have managed that up to present, and that’s the reason we have not open yet,” Mr. Willie added.

MR. MINISTER, this is sad. You need to do all in your power to get the School for the Blind’s doors reopened so that those visually-impaired Liberians can be back in school. No Liberian child should be left behind in acquiring primary education under your watch and in this 21st Century. 

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