18 January 2013

Liberia: 700 Teachers to Lose Jobs

The Ministry of Education has ordered over 700 public school's teachers to submit their credentials for scrutiny after they were rejected by the Civil Service Agency (CSA).

Deputy Education Minister for Administration, Henrique Wilson confirmed this via mobile phone Thursday in Monrovia, but could not state whether or not those teachers were barred from teaching for now.

He said the teachers' credentials were recently rejected by the Civil Service Agency, but fell short of saying on what grounds; were they fake or not.

"CSA's action prompted us to set-up a vetting committee, where we asked them (teachers) to bring forward their documents for scrutinizing," he noted.

Wilson could not also tell the public whether or not those teachers were asked to stay out of classes until the process is complete.

He said the exercise will take time because some of the teachers were coming from rural areas as far as Webbo, River Gee County; Zorzor, Lofa County and other places throughout the country.

Mohammed Amara, one of the teachers believed to have submitted credential, said the exercise is intended to bar them from the classroom and at the same time, to force them out of job during this time of economic hardship in the country. He argued that the decision should have gone into effect when academic year ended last term instead of now when schools are in session throughout the country.

"The ministry's action can be described as barring teachers from classroom which could affect students' progress, mainly grades 9th and 12th who are expected to write their public exams in May, 2013," Amara noted.

Liberia has three main rural teacher training institutions, which produced sizeable number of trained teachers annually. Those institutions are the Kakata Rural Teachers Training Institute (KRTTI) in Margibi County; Webbo Rural Teachers Training Institute (WRTTI) in River Gee County and Zorzor Rural Teachers Training Institute (ZRTTI) in Zorzor District, Lofa County plus the William V. S Tubman Teacher's College at the University of Liberia, respectively.

A USAID's Liberia Teacher Training Programme (LTTP) which supported the Education Ministry in league with implementing partners, like Academy for Educational Development (AED), International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Mississippi Consortium for International Development (MCID) carried out training exercises for rural teachers since October, 2006 to 2010 and perhaps beyond.

LTTP uses an integrated set of policies, support and capacity-building activities to address the critical shortage of qualified teachers and institutional capacity to produce new ones.

It trains and certifies primary school teachers with "C" certification through pre-service training at those rural teacher training institutes and through in-service training in six counties, including Montserrado, Nimba, Lofa, Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Maryland and Margibi.

In June 2009, after years of conflict, the first post-war class of trained and certified elementary teachers graduated from the Kakata, Webbo and Zorzor rural teacher training institutes, respectively.

Observers believe that it would be an irony for those over 700 teachers, who are facing job insecurity not to have anything to show because the "A", "B" or "C" Certificates issued by the government are recognized.

"If any of those teachers failed by not going through the rudiment of the profession at those institutes, than both the CSA and MOE have a genuine case," said one observer.

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