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LIBERIA’S EDUCATION SYSTEM is said to be at its lowest ebb since the founding of the Republic. As a result, much is into the air about its wellbeing as to what is responsible, who is responsible and how it can rejuvenate to the antebellum status when hundreds of foreign students chose Liberia over other advanced systems around the world. For most Liberians, it is the Ministry of Education, the arm of government with the authority to regulate and institute measures that enhance the system; for some, it is the students themselves; others are pointing fingers at the teachers. What is centrally true about the argument is that ‘some is wrong with the system.’

THE PROOF OF the argument – that something is wrong - is also shrouded in experts including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s upright categorization that the system ‘is a mess.’ The reason is that the President did not speak out of the ‘blue sky,’ rather as one with all relevantly firsthand information, one who sits on top of happenings within in the system. The only thing she did not resort to is finger pointing, or stating the cause for the so-called messiness of the system.

ANY FRUSTRATED PRESIDENT whose administration pumped into the system millions of dollars for its revitalization and resuscitation since 2006 cannot have spicy comments when things have gone wayward. This is why we agreed and even pitted the President when she came public and denigrated the system. Perhaps as a solution seeking strategy, the President took some actions including the removal of the leadership at the Ministry of Education, which many believed (including her) lacked the wherewithal to inject fresh ideas that would bring about great deal of vicissitudes. Since then, a new leadership is in charge of happenings at the Ministry, but from all indications nothing significantly tangible has changed much for the better.

RUMBLING THROUGH THIS situation leaves one wondering whether the President did not get it right by the mere change of leadership or the leadership’s strategies are not working. We witnessed the introduction of the Bridge Learning System which at some point became a highly debatable subject across all spectrum of society. We cannot say much about it because it is pilot undertaking that is still in the embryonic stage. However, beyond the introduction of this project, there are other practical steps which we consider germane in re-ordering and restructuring the education system.

FOR EXAMPLE, AND we think the MOE will not contest that its supervision is not at the game-changing level. A robust supervision strategy, in our cogitation is a sine qua non to remaking and standardizing the system to be on par with others in the region and the world at large. With all things juxtaposed, it’s no naysaying that the Ministry is aware that some schools operating here, whether private or public, don’t meet the basic requirements laid down. What should it be so difficult for such entity to be closed down or made to standardize its operation in line with set rules? We are too sure MOE is aware of the existence of some of these schools. How many times MOE officials visited a school to observe teachers’ presentations? How many times MOE officials sat with school administration to request standard reports on teachers’ classroom performance? How many times MOE officials ordered a school closed for lack of adequate facilities?

THIS IS A sort of lackluster deportment that has equally given rise to several embarrassing factors because when the father is weak to monitor and chastise the kids, they become masters of themselves. In essence, both teachers and students are on are their own because the MOE has failed to show leadership. In this case, teachers are inducing students for ‘sex or finance’ for grades. Students who know the teacher depend for the two will definitely not have time to study because he/she knows the teacher will ask for something that they are capable of providing. This is the situation at all the learning centers across the country including tertiary institutions. A student says ‘the teacher cannot fail me once I smile at him.’

DISTANTLY APART FROM while the system does not flourish in the absence of money, the problem with the Education system should not be blamed on lack of financial, material or logistical support; rather is the weakness or inability of those at the helm of leadership to subscribe to or implement laid-down rubrics. When school administrations are demanding L$200 as test fees, it tells that the system is on its own. When every Dick and Tom who is blessed with a structure opens a school, parents/guardians are induced to send their kids on the back of ‘lack of resources’ to send them to ‘good schools.’ We think the messiness of the system is multiple, but the first step for correction begins with the pro-activeness of the MOE to correct the wrongs. Otherwise, Liberia has a long way to go because everyone in the system is focused on money – what they can get daily, weekly and monthly.

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