Liberia goes tough on education, plans academic crime courts

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Ansu Sonii, Liberia’s new education minister

The new Liberian government has taken some far-reaching decisions to revamp education, including establishment of academic crime court, licensing of teachers and re-introduction of civics education.

The court is to prosecute individuals suspected of committing fraud in the sector.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced the 12-count plans that would be executed to strengthen the education sector in the coming years.

The Minister, Dr. Ansu D. Sonii, said that the new policies will ensure strict compliance, “because the new team has resolved that all teachers be licensed by the MoE authorities to identify a particular holder as a trained and bona-fide teacher.”

He said teachers would be evaluated through examinations to determine whether they are qualified to serve as teachers in the classroom, “but mind you, graduating from any of the rural teacher training institutes does not automatically make a graduate a teacher, until that person can be licensed by the MoE, you are not a teacher.”

Sonii said he would not consider degrees and certificates from teacher training institutes across the country as a basis for licensing of teachers; because those certificates and degrees are papers obtained to teach, which doesn’t necessarily make the holder a qualified teacher.

According to him, the exercise will soon kick-off and is expected to be completed in two years’, as part of the President George Weah’s ‘Pro-Poor Agenda’ to protect the teaching profession.

“One cannot just come from anywhere to teach our kids. This is unacceptable.”

“We don’t want a 5th grader teaching calculus, because such persons will only be displaying their knowledge and not necessarily teaching,” he emphasized.

Sonii said those who have spent more than 35 to 40 years in the classrooms would be exempted from writing the test to be qualified to obtain the pending teaching license, but those in such category will have to go through a ‘cleaning process,’ thereby refreshing memories to their previous lesson plans.

Sonii spoke against the backdrop of reports of unqualified teachers being assigned in the classrooms, especially in rural parts of the country, where it has been repeatedly proven that high school graduates and or school dropouts are teaching, because of the lack of qualified teachers to take up assignments in those areas.

Sonii meanwhile threatened to aggressively punish principals of schools, who will allow ‘unlicensed teachers’ into their classrooms.

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He noted that teachers’ licenses would be revoked for various reasons, noting that when a teacher’s license is revoked, that person will not be allowed to teach in any school (public or private).

As a result of those policies, Dr. Sonii said he would formulate a monitoring team to visit every school, “because President Weah appointed my colleagues and me to compliment the works of county and district educational officers by visiting their respective schools’ territories.

Bringing aboard local authorities as though the education officers are effective in the discharge their assigned duties.

Sonii said the ministry would provide compensation to local government authorities, including district commissioners, city majors to help monitor schools with the intent to discourage students working on the private farms of teachers or leaving school to attend video clubs and entertainment centers, especially the ones trading alcoholic beverages to school-going underage pupils.

Source: Liberia Observer

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