Liberia: Margibi Students Hold Principal ‘Hostage’
Kakata, Margibi – Students of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) School System in Kakata, Margibi County on Monday, November 18, went on the rampage against the administration’s prolonged delay to provide their uniforms after the school’s authority mandated parents and guardians to pay US$40.
The enraged students held the school’s principal hostage and other teaching staffs for more than five hours as normal learning activities were shut down for the entire day.
The Ministry of Education (MoE) at the onset of the 2019/2020 Academic Year, mandated private and faith-based learning institutions in the country to make uniform sales on campuses as optional to parents and students.
The Minister of Education, Dr. Ansu D. Sonii, at the time warned any private school that mandates students to purchase uniforms on campus that the Ministry shall levy the 35% income tax for corporate enterprise.
The Kakata YMCA School, according to report, collected money from the students for the purchase of uniforms and other school materials but has since failed to provide the students their schooling materials.
The school administrators’ failure to provide the students their materials prompted them to stage the protest in demand of their schooling items.
Speaking to this newspaper, some students said they had paid fees charged by the administration for their school materials but are yet to receive them.
A 12th grader disclosed that each of them paid US$40 for a package that should contain a set of uniform, Physical Education suit, handbooks, identification card and a pair of socks.
A 10th grader also alleged that each student from his class paid US$35 for similar items and the administration promised to give them what they paid for but they are yet to receive their items.
The students in separate statements disclosed that they paid for their school materials since the resumption of 2019/2020 Academic Year, but their school’s administration continues to promise that they could receive their materials.
The students, however, vowed to continue their demonstration if the administration does not address their demands.
When contacted, a man identified only as Kromah, who claimed to be the principal said he is not the spokesperson for the school as such he could not comment on the matter but rather referred this newspaper to the Coordinator of the Kakata YMCA, Moore W. Zinnah.
Mr. Zinnah admitted, in an interview, that the school collected money from the students to purchase the materials but noted that due to some circumstances there has been delay in getting the materials for the students.
He stated that he cannot consider the collection of fees from the students to purchase uniforms as a violation of the MoE’s mandate because it was prior to the Ministry of Education’s mandate that the school hired a Chinese firm’s representative in Liberia to produce their school materials.
The YMCA Kakata Branch Coordinator also admitted that 12th graders were asked to pay US$40 for the purchase of long sleeve shirt, trouser, badge, neck-tie, socks and P.E. outfits. According to him the amount is minimum.
Zinnah further stated that it is not about the students paying the amount prior to the Ministry’s pronouncement, but the institution prior arrangement that led them to invest huge sum of money to the process and there was no other way it could be stopped.