Liberia School for the Blind Authorities Want Multiple Constraints Address Prior to Commencement of 2020/2021 Academic Year

Monrovia — Authorities of the Liberian School for the Blind are calling on the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Ministries of Finance and Development Planning and Education, to ensure the provision of adequate financial support to the institution to address multiple challenges prior to the commencement of academic year 2020/2021.

The school is an elementary institution which was founded in 1977 to provide education and psycho-social counseling to visually impaired citizens from across Liberia.

The institution's Principal, Mr. Jackson Suah, disclosed that the school remains faced with numerous constraints despite its closure for academic year 2019.2020 under challenging circumstances.

He made these comments in an interview with FrontPage Africa via telephone recently.

It can be recalled that the Liberian School for the Blind was compelled to open late for academic year 2019/2020 in January 2020, instead of September 2019- due to the failure of the Liberian government to disburse the necessary funding to the school.

The school is solely funded by the Government of Liberia (GOL), through budgetary support.

It also depends on goodwill gesture including donations and support to key programs, including feeding, from humanitarians, faith-based institutions, local and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating in Liberia and other parts of the world.

Others support to the Liberian School for the Blind comes 'once in the blue moon,' or it's not regular at all.

Mr. Suah disclosed that despite the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, the school was able to successful climax its academic activities for 2019/2020, but the challenges still remain huge at the institution.

He pointed out that the only vehicle being used by the school has outlived its usefulness, and as such, it should be replaced before the reopening of school next academic year.

"We were able to put out three students that will be onward integrated into the mainstream schools. It is our appeal to government now to increase the allotment to the school to an appreciable amount for the school to be able to cater to some of its challenges that it has".

"Presently, the vehicle that we have is a vehicle that has lived its life span; we asked for the replacement of that vehicle and we are knocking doors on the government to see how best they can come to our aid. If not the replacement of the vehicle, but that vehicle can also be serviced".

He noted that the integration students program being initiated by the school authorities need adequate support to enable students who graduated from the Liberian School for the Blind attend other junior and senior high schools in the community.

Mr. Suah maintained that scholarships must be provided to these students to enable them complete high school and university levels after graduating from the elementary level at the Liberian School for the Blind.

"Apart from the scholarship for these students, we also need a mobile service for them-a vehicle that will be able to take them from campus to their various schools and bring them back on campus (School for the Blind)".

He added that a medical center needs to be established on the school campus to provide medical support and proper healthcare to visually impaired Liberian students.

He disclosed that most often authorities of the school are constrained to shoulder the medical bills of visually impaired Liberian students who are in critical conditions at other health facilities within the vicinity of the institution.

"This is an appeal we are making to other donors out there to see the need to help the school with medical support in terms of drugs. Sometimes we have problem with first aid on campus; and we have to take some of these students to the nearby clinics. Presently, Ahmadiyya Hospital is the only medical facility that is accepting visually impaired for free treatment".

Flooding

Mr. Suah disclosed that the campus of the school is normally flooded, particularly during the rainy season.

He added that portion of the school's fence has been brought down as a result of severe flooding.

He noted that the current situation poses a security threat to the students, who are visually impaired, and as such, helping hands should be provided to address the constraints.

"Part of the fence has fallen down and this is a huge security challenge for us. Sometimes, some members of the community will intrude on the campus and pick up some things belonging to the students. If the fence can be rehabilitated, it will help greatly improve the security challenge that we have on campus"

He continued: "Liberian School for the Blind like any other institution in the country is affected by the current economic hardship. And so, we normally appeal to other donors and humanitarian organizations to come to the need of the institution".

Funding issue

Mr. Suah recalled that the Liberian School for the Blind was lingering behind other schools in terms of providing academic lessons to its students due to the lack of adequate funding.

He noted that the disbursement of allotted funding to the school in the national budget at the time prompted the late commencement of classes for last academic year.

Mr. Suah further expressed the hope that the necessary funds will be disbursed to the school before the commencement of the pending academic year to prevent the reoccurrence of what happened in the past.

"Modalities are being expedited so that before the beginning of next academic year, the necessary funds will be put at the disposal of the institution so that we can be able to open on time".

Gratitude

Mr. Suah, however, expressed gratitude to the Government of Liberia (GOL) and other humanitarian organizations for the necessary support to the institution.

He made specific reference to the provision of the school's portion of the stimulus package provided by the Liberian government during this Covid-19 period.

As one of the less fortunate and vulnerable institutions operating in Liberia, the Liberian School for the Blind was fortunate to receive about 80 bags of 25kg rice, 40 gallons of oil and eight bags of beans.

He added that despite the level of support provided to the school, more need to be done to address the huge challenges that currently assist before the commencement of the pending academic year.

"We are very grateful to the government; we just completed the academic year and we want to express our thanks and appreciation to the Ministry of Education. We are also grateful to governmental agencies, especially the National Lotteries Authority, the office of the First Lady and other humanitarian organizations in supporting the school for the blind in meeting some of its challenges".

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