Education Minister Rehires Teachers Dismissed After Margibi Student Protests

KAKATA, Margibi – Education Minister Ansu Sonii has ordered about 28 teachers dismissed during the September 2016 student protests in Margibi to be reinstated.

Over 2,500 students demonstrated in Margibi, vandalizing properties and blocking major highways, in an attempt to claim government’s attention over the absence of teachers in their classrooms. The students mostly came from the Harbel Multilateral High School, Robert Stanley Caulfield High School, Dolo Town, Peter Town and RIA Public schools.

The students’ protests were brought about by a strike by the National Teachers Association of Liberia. The public school teachers demanded the dismissal or resignation of former Education Minister George Werner and the Superintendent of the Monrovia Consolidated School System, Adolphus Benjamin Jacobs. NTAL claimed that the two officials violated the constitution, the Revised Education Law of 2011, and the 1964/1965 Act that created the MCSS.

Several groups, including the MCSS Teachers Association, Concerned University Students of the Ministry of Education Local Scholarship Program, National Health Workers Association of Liberia, and the Consolidated Human Rights Advocacy Movement also signed a resolution supporting the teachers’ action.

Students block the Robertsfield Highway during protests in September 2016. Photo: Gbatemah Senah

The students’ actions, however, turned violent, resulting in the ransacking of several public buildings in Kakata. They also reportedly vandalized government facilities, including the 13th Judicial Circuit Court, regional offices of the National Elections Commission, the Margibi County Service Center, and part of the fence that surrounds the Ministry of Education’s facility in Kakata.

An outraged Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the former president, upon her arrival from the United States at the Roberts International Airport, called on the Ministry of Education to immediately dismiss all teachers and school administrators linked to the protest.

Sonii said his decision to rehire the dismissed employees aims to fill the gap of qualified teachers in the classrooms.

“We are challenged by low number of teachers in the classrooms and we intend to reconsider the decision because the dismissed teachers are trained and professional people whose services are still needed,” Sonii noted.

Milton Coleman, the former president of the Margibi branch of the National Teachers Association of Liberia, was one of the dismissed employees who challenged the government’s decision to dismiss him and others. However, he died a month ago.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Emmanuel Degleh

Emmanuel has over a decade of experience working as a community radio broadcaster. He is the Margibi correspondent for the Liberia Broadcasting System and currently the acting president of the Margibi Journalist Association. Emmanuel is also a member of the Press Union of Liberia and a 2016 Internews Health Journalism Fellow.

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