Grand Bassa County – Ahead of the reopening of the academic year in Liberia, students of the St. John River High School in District Two, Grand Bassa County have renewed calls for the government to add volunteer teachers on the Ministry of Education’s payroll.
Students Naomi Ross and Alvin Karnga of the 9th-grade class who spoke on behalf of their classmates during an interview with LocalVoicesLiberia said they are extremely worried that they won’t be taught well if the situation is not addressed.
The school has 13 teachers but only seven are on government’s payroll while the rest are volunteers who say they have consistently complained about their situation to education authority in the county.
“When the six government teachers are in the other classes and if the volunteer teachers don’t come, all the other students can spend the rest of the instructional period playing. Sometimes, we can’t get any teacher at all,” Naomi said.
The school was recently supplied with textbooks and students have access to latrine and drinking water. However, they are worried that the lack of teachers may again be a serious impediment.
“We can go to our teachers during school time to beg them to teach us and they can sometimes listen to us but sometimes they don’t even come on campus for some days because nobody paying them,” added Alvin.
The students said the Ministry of Education should “help the volunteer teachers with some money even if they are not on payroll” something they said, will serve as motivation.
“We are pleading with our teachers not to give up on us because we want to learn and we are the future leaders of Liberia,” one student said.
Some of the volunteer teachers at the school said they have been volunteering for over five years but appeal to be compensated or placed on the government payroll has fallen on deaf ears.
“We have families and they need to eat, wear clothes as well but the government can’t think of us so I leave the class sometimes to hustle on my farm,” said one volunteer teacher, who asked not to be named.
Responding to the situation, Edwin Kwakpeh, the county education officer, said MOE assigns teachers to schools that have a population of about 150 students.
He said the aptitude test administered to public school teachers last November was to improve the performance of teachers in public schools before placing additional ones on the payroll.
Mr. Kwekpeh said the plight of volunteer teachers has not been forgotten but they should have the right qualifications to teach.
“We have informed the ministry about the problems faced by the volunteer teachers and they’ve promised to address the problems soon,” said the CEO.
Report By: Elton Wrionbee Tiah