14 December 2012

Liberia: Defeated 'Will-Power' - As MOE Falters On Enforceability

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A renowned Liberian Disciplinary recently said upon carefully watching the manner and form in which students both sexes in the nation's capital were dressed in their respective school's uniforms wondered whether they were movie stars, fashion designers or on a determined campaign to desecrate the respected value and image of what school uniform reflects and represents. But be as it may, one can not shy away from the maxim that where there is no vision, the nation perishes; this in actual understanding means that from the Ministry of Education down to the various school authorities are all inadequate to enforce the dress code for the students to the letter thereby finding themselves to falter, therefore it becomes glaring that their will-power has equally so been defeated. In view of this sad state of affairs confronting the dress code of students, The New Republic retrospects in the Ministry's Administrative Regulations-Liberian Education Administrative and Management Policies and digs up what was written on dress code in the first place.

The Liberia Education Administrative Regulations volume 4: dubbed Liberian Education Administrative Guides; Revision number one and dated November 2011, under the sub-title Dress Code clearly noted that the Ministry of Education is directly concerned with the dress code of students.

Predicated upon such expression from the Ministry, many well-known educators and educationists who asked not to be named in print have vehemently questioned the "expressed concern" by the Ministry when in the first place it has failed to institute measures that could ensure that the most decent and respected treatment in term of the school uniform is strictly adhered to without faltering.

These custodians of the respected value accorded the wearing of the school uniforms also stated that despite being scored by the students of craving to impose their "old school" concept which is totally opposite their modern way of life including the manner and style they treat their clothes, the ball is squarely placed in the court of the Ministry of Education which has the statutory responsibility to ensure that students should subscribe to the rules with emphasis on the dress code as long as they remain students.

But the Administrative Regulations sanctioned by the Ministry, reveals that the Ministry believes that the right dress code contributes to the learning environment in a positive way and that all teachers and students will adhere to the common practice of neat and responsible dressing.

It continues that therefore, it is expected that the County School Board of the MCSS council, will decide on the appropriate dress for teachers and the requisite uniform for public schools within the county school system, adding that each school board must institute and enforce a mandatory school uniform policy for all schools within the country established or operating under the Education reform Act of 2011.

Setting the stage regarding what will be accepted and what will be refused or rejected, the Administrative Regulations stressed that notwithstanding, students are expected to adhere to the following dress code: male students have their trousers placed on their waist; no student shall be allowed to "sag" or hang his/her trouser of skirts below their knees; all students should have their uniform shirts and blouse firmly "tucked" in their trousers or skirts and no student should be allowed to wear a shirt or a blouse that is sleeveless.

It also added that students failing to comply with this dress code may be sent home and may be subject to disciplinary actions as deemed appropriate by the principal and discipline code of the school; and while the MINISTRY OF education also believes that in order to have an enabling learning environment, school administrators must be neatly dressed.

It made it crystal clear that no teacher, principal or other school administrator shall be restricted from wearing any clothing that depicts his/her cultural or religious values or beliefs; notwithstanding, teachers and school administrators should refrain from wearing clothing with inscriptions that depict negativity, violence, and /or vulgar language.

However, despite these golden rules crafted to enhance a decent dress code for students, these prominent educators and educationists say it is disheartening to still see students dressed in complete violation of the prescribed dress code from the Ministry of Education, noting that one does not have to look too far away to see the gross violation while the Ministry seems to behave as though all is well and the students are in full compliance with its dress code.

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