Liberia: Harbel College in Dire Straits as Students Complain of Lack of School Bus, Electricity and Laboratory

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The students said the lack of electricity, a school bus for field trips and lack of laboratory for practical scientific work pose serious challenges to their learning activities.

Margibi County – Students of Harbel College in lower Margibi County have raised concerns over constraints faced by the college, calling for President George Weah’s speedy intervention.

The students told FrontPageAfrica interview Sunday, March 1, that the lack of electricity, a school bus for field trips and lack of laboratory for practical scientific work pose serious challenges to their learning activities.

The spokesperson of the students, Jupor Gborkerquelle, a senior student reading Disaster Management said the institution has only a jeep and a pick-up for operation, while there is none for students’ field trips.

“Over time, there have been serious difficulties we have faced with going out for field trips. There are some of those materials being taught in class that students need to have hands-on knowledge about, but to no avail, because we do not have a bus to take us on the field,” student Gborkerquelle said. 

Harbel College is a government-owned institution, but the student said the college lacks the basic facilities to meet up with a degree-granting institution’s standard.

“You have over 1,400 plus students at the college and sometimes when the students want to go for a field trip and they ask the administration for funding, it doesn’t work most of the time,” he added.

While field trip challenge remains a factor at the college, the students have in the same way complained about lack of science laboratory.

According to them, the construction of a laboratory at the college is urgent for students reading engineering and science courses, noting that their teachers are only presenting the theoretical aspect of the lessons to them without practical demonstration. 

In the face of these hitches, the student said the lack of electricity is stalling other programs like computer science from being in full swing. 

“Over time, there have been serious difficulties we have faced with going out for field trips. There are some of those materials being taught in class that students need to have hands-on knowledge about, but to no avail, because we do not have a bus to take us on the field.”

– Jupor Gborkerquelle, Spokesman, Harbel Stdents

“We suffer seriously for electricity and there is no means that any of our lawmakers can engage Firestone right next door to the college to help with electricity supply. Some of our parents work at firestone and there is no help from them,” Gborkerquellie lamented.

Gborkorkollie also complained that the government’s project at the college is currently at a standstill while the college has insufficient classrooms to accommodate students.

He said: “We have raised some of these issues in district sittings and county sitting, but our lawmakers ignored them. Harbel College is underfunded amongst all government higher institutions of learning.” 

At the same time, the student said they are left in a state of dilemma on the process leading to their graduation scheduled for December 2020. 

The college president Dr. Syrulwa Somah has also confirmed the students’ agitation over constraints his administration is currently faced due to the lack of basic facilities.

Dr. Somah told FrontPageAfrica via mobile phone Sunday, March 1, that the college was given US$2,500.00 only as expenditure for goods and services, stating that the amount is not enough. 

He said there is no new computer at the school and the ones being used are not in good condition. 

Dr. Somah said his administration is also faced with difficulties running the college without a vice president. 

“The students are not making up stories, that’s the reality on grounds and government is aware, because they promised to give us US$27,000, but only US$ 2,500 was received,” Dr. Somah said.

He further disclosed that of the US$546,000 budgeted for Harbel College, only US$151,000 was received and that amount is being used to manage staff salaries payment.

He said it is frustrating that the caucus of Margibi is not helping the college with the funding they received from Firestone, Liberia.

“To have this college in Margibi is a blessing, but we do not want for this baby to die, just imaging running a college with US$2,500 for goods and services, this is a government institution and they are supposed to give funding to run the college,” he maintained.

“The college is about to put out its first graduates in December and there is no funding for that,” he said. 

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