After Student Protests, President Sirleaf Closes Bong County Technical College

GBARNGA, Bong – Following a series of protest actions by students attending the Bong County Technical College in Gbarnga, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has mandated that the college be closed until September this year.

The students have in recent times protested against what they say is poor learning environment at the college.

They are pushing for better-equipped science laboratories, a library, and the accreditation of the nursing department of the college by the Nursing Board of Liberia and the Ministry of Health.

The aggrieved students are also requesting the appointment of a permanent president instead of the current interim president.

The protests by the students had earlier forced the interim administration of the college to shut down academic activities a week before the arrival of the president to Bong.

During her recent visit to the county, President Sirleaf was greeted with the students’ protest, a situation that claimed her attention.

The president had a closed-door meeting with the leadership of Bong and members of the interim management team of the college, including some board members.

Following the meeting, Sirleaf met the protesting students at their unfinished facility in the Gboveh Hill Community and announced the closure of the college.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaking to protesting students. Photo: Philip Singbah.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speaking to protesting students. Photo: Philip Singbah.

“We decided the college will stay closed for now,” Sirleaf told the students. “Now we are going to investigate what can be done. There is a search committee that is on, I will talk to the search committee’s head, I will even put some new members on that search committee so they can look at those who have applied to run the school.”

She said before the school opens in September, a new management and a “reconstituted board” will be constituted to run the institution.

The president advised the students against violent acts that could undermine the progress made at the school.

“The only thing I will ask of you is to please refrain from violence, refrain from any action that will put the college in the worst situation,” Sirleaf said.

The students were seen celebrating following the president’s pronouncement of the closure of the school.

Some of the students who spoke with The Bush Chicken said they are “optimistic” that this time around, their plights will be addressed before the school opens in September.

This is not the first time Sirleaf has addressed protesting students of the college. Last year, the president also addressed the students when they protested in demand of the completion of the college’s ongoing construction.

Funded by Bong County’s Social Development Fund, the community college project was expected to have been completed in 2012, following the groundbreaking in December 2010.

The construction is being done by the Liberia China United Investment Group.

The initial cost of the project was placed at US$4.2 million. As it stands, the county has infused more than US$5 million and the project is yet to be completed.

Featured photo by Moses Bailey

Moses Bailey

Moses started his journalism career in 2010 as a reporter at Radio Gbarnga. In 2011, the Press Union of Liberia recognized him as the Human Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2017, he was the Development Reporter of the Year. He is also an Internews Health Journalism Fellow. Moses is also the regional coordinator for NAYMOTE-Liberia, an organization working with youth to promote democratic governance.

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