The NEWS (Monrovia)

20 February 2013

Liberia: Catholic Schools Shut Down

A local office of the Ministry of Education in Harper, Maryland County, has confirmed the closure of two Catholic schools in the county.

The Fatima and St. Francis High Schools have been ordered closed for their failure to honor the National Day of Mourning declared by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on February 12, 2013.

The holiday was declared for the death of 11 Guinean military officers in a plane crash. The military men were coming to Liberia to participate in the celebration of the Armed Forces Day when the plane in which they were traveling crashed in Charlesville in Margibi County.

As a sign of solidarity with the Government and people of Guinea, President Sirleaf declared a national holiday to mourn the loss of the soldiers, but the pronouncement was reportedly ignored by the Catholic School System in Harper and Pleebo District.

Maryland County Education Officer James N. Bartti told this paper in an interview via mobile phone that he had imposed a fine of L$50,000 for their failure to observe the National Day of Mourning.

He disclosed that instead of the Catholic Schools observing the day, they asked their students to attend classes something, which he said, was a gross disrespect for presidential proclamation.

Mr. Bartti said the fine will be paid into government's revenue and a flag receipt submitted to his office indicating that they have complied. He stressed that the schools will remain closed until the fine is paid.

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