Liberia: School for The Blind Finally Reopens After Months of Struggles
Virginia – At long last, the Liberian School for the Blind has resumed classes for the current academic year.
The school resumes after several months of delays in the disbursement of monies budgeted for the institution in the national budgets.
The school, which is located in the Township of Virginia, outside Monrovia, is a primary institution founded in 1977 to provide education and psychosocial counseling to visually impaired people.
The reopening of the school suffered several setbacks since the beginning of the current academic year in September 2019.
The school campus was lively on Monday as students returned to the classes. Dressed in their white shirts, blouses and navy blue skirts and trousers, joy and happiness beamed on the students’ faces.
Many of these students come from faraway places to board at the institution.
The students said they were “jealous and frustrated” when they were out of school while others were attending regularly.
They called on the government to avoid any reoccurrence.
The pronouncement of the initial financial contribution to the Liberian School for the Blind for its reopening comes in the wake of two FrontPageAfrica’s publications on an attempt by government authorities to deny the vulnerable Liberian students access to education as enshrined in Article15 (b) of the 1986 Liberian constitution
Speaking in an interview with FrontPageAfrica via telephone, the school’s Principal, Mr. Jackson Suah, L$504,000 was finally released by the Ministry of Education for the re-opening of the institution.
He disclosed that the amount is an “initial intervention” towards the reopening of the school.
“The Ministry of Education and the Liberian School for the Blind have been holding series of meetings and those meetings have yielded fruitful results. The Ministry of Education has made an initial financial intervention for the reopening of the School for the Blind. We received L$504, 000,” Suah said.
For the past two years, budgetary allotments for the school has not been forthcoming, a situation that has affected the operations of the school.
The school was allotted US$90,000, out of a US$563 million budget passed by the 53rd National Legislature during the regime of former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The total amount budgeted was fully received by the school’s authorities.
For Fiscal Year 2018/2019, the school was allotted US$45,000. However, only US$20,000 was disbursed to the school and it is unclear why the rest was not given the school.
For this current Fiscal Year 2019/2020, US$50,000 has been allotted to the school.
Mr. Suah pointed out that despite an outstanding of US$25,000 from the national budget of 2018/2019, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, headed by Samuel Tweah, is yet to clear the remaining amount or release the portion of the school’s allotment captured in the national budget for Fiscal Year 2019/2020.
“The money is from the Ministry of Education; it is not from the Ministry of Finance; that is while we are expressing gratitude to the Ministry of Education for- because these are difficult times,” he maintained.
According to the school’s Principal, modalities have been worked out by a specialized committee to ensure that the students are brought up to speed as it regards the teaching curriculum.
Mr. Suah further expressed hope that the institution will meet up with the calendar set aside by the Ministry of Education for the present academic year.
For her part, the Vice Principal of the school, Madam Eve Nifor disclosed that administrative and teaching staff at the institution will “double-up” their efforts to ensure t students are brought up to speed.
“It has been challenging seeing that other schools normally open in September. But opening this year has been very challenging for us. However, we want to be very grateful to the Ministry of Education and the parents. We have intensified our efforts to ensure that our students are on par with their colleagues even if it is not 100%, but at least 75%. We are professional teachers and we know how to go about doing it,” she noted.
No Adequate Feeding
Meanwhile, Madam Nifor has disclosed that all of the students live on the school campus and with the absence of food; it would make learning difficult for them.
According to Madam Nifor, meager resources from government and philanthropic organizations have been used to provide food for the students.
“The money given to the school is not even enough because you see the institution we run. We run an institution for special needs people – they are visually impaired and some of them have a mental problem. We need specialized equipment; and to pay our staffers, feed the children and take care of medical,” she said, stressing that the school needs more support.