Liberia: Parents Blast Schools, Education Ministry For ‘Compelling Students to Abandon Class For Political Rally
UNIFICATION CITY, Margibi County – Angry parents have expressed disappointment in the Margibi County School System and the Ministry of Education for forcing their children out of school to attend a political rally in honor of the former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Minister, Nathaniel McGill.
Last Friday, the disgraced sanctioned ex-minister was petitioned by group of supporters to run for the county’s only senatorial seat up for grabs in 2023. The ceremony attracted a huge crowd including students between ages 12 and 18 wearing pro McGill T-shirts bearing his photograph over their uniforms.
The students were made to board the National Transit Authority buses from several public schools including Duazon Public School, Harbel Multilateral High School, Garzon Reserve School and John P. Mitchell School and taken to the venue of the petitioning ceremony in Unification City, Lower Margibi County.
MOE Must Answer
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica, the parents accused the schools’ authorities and the Ministry of education of exploiting their children for selfish gains.
“The Ministry of Education must answer us. We sent our children to school, not to engage in campaign activities for McGill. Our children should not be used to boost the number of his political gathering”, Peter Kartor said.
Another parent, Ezekiel Padmore added: “Our children are not political shields. They should not be exploited for somebody’s political interest. We did not send them to school to run campaign. Most of them are not even eligible to vote. This is shameful.”
The parents are demanding answers from the Ministry of Education for its failure to protect their children from such abuse as it violates the Children’s Right Law of Liberia and the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The Ministry, responding to a FrontPage Africa’s inquiry said it has not received any complaint, but promised to inquire from the education authorities including the County Education Officer.
Some of the students, asking not to be named, told FPA they were told by their principals to attend the program, in return will be given T-shirts and money for refreshment.
Pay to Play
One of the teachers who accompanied the students, also seeking anonymity, said McGill gave each of the principals US$2,000 and ten-25 kg bags of rice.
“Our school was given 250 pieces of McGill’s t-shirts, US$2,000 and ten bags of rice. We were instructed to bring those children here to be part of the program. Our boss (the principal) only told us that he was mandated to do so,” the teacher said.
McGill was one of three top officials sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department for public corruption. In September, he, along with his colleagues, bowed to public pressure and resigned.
Following his resignation, rumors emerged that he was eying a senatorial seat in either Bong or Gbarpolu County. But his attention soon turned to Margibi, especially Kakata, the County’s capital where he made several visits, amassing large crowd. His acceptance to contest as Senator confirmed these speculations.
‘Get Out of Public Space’
However, his decision continues to be greeted by public outcry and condemnations from high profile figures of the county.
Recently, Rep. Tibelrosa Tarponweh called on eligible voters of Margibi to reject McGill, once considered the most powerful figure within the CDC-led Government.
Rep. Tarponweh, who also chairs the County’s Legislative Caucus said Margibi is not a hideout for criminals and cautioned McGill to avoid the public space and seek repentance.
“If the Americans said that you are the most corrupt man in Liberia, I think you need to get out of the public space. Our view is that this brother (McGill) should not be thinking about contesting. He should go and seek repentance to clear his name. Margibi is not a dumping ground for criminals,” he said, while addressing a gathering at the Dolo Town Intellectual Forum in Margibi on Sunday.