Serious Issues to Consider Before Reopening Schools

first_imgThe president of the Better Future Foundation, Reverend Augustine Akoi, has called on the Liberian government to reopen all schools, from kindergarten to university, throughout the country.Rev. Akoi questioned the wisdom of keeping entertainment centers, including video clubs, open while the schools remain closed.  He argued, rightly, we believe, that creating awareness against the deadly Ebola virus can better be accomplished in educational institutions than anywhere else. Clearly, entertainment centers, where people booze (drink intoxicating liquor)  and video clubs, where they stand and  rub against one another in tight spaces to watch football and movies, are places where the virus can spread faster than in schools. Yes, most schools, especially government ones, are overcrowded, thanks to the student explosion that was created several years ago by GOL’s tuition-free primary education policy.  However, just as Rev. Arkoi indicated, it is in the educational environment that awareness about health and other issues can better be communicated and more easily become part of the learning process. BUT—and there are very big BUTs:  The BIG question is, are the schools, colleges and universities ready to reopen in this Ebola-infested environment?The first problem is, how will the students get to school—in overcrowded buses or taxies?  And where are these?  Each day students can be seen lining the sidewalks waiting frantically for transport. Secondly, most of the classrooms, especially in government schools, are overcrowded, with insufficient or broken chairs, causing many students to sit on the dirty floor—another Ebola high risk.Thirdly, and most dangerous of all, most schools have dysfunctional toilets, and outside urination is done on many school compounds.  Remember, urine is an Ebola carrier.There is, fourthly, the issue of hand washing chlorinated water buckets for say 1000 or more students in each school six days a week—six days since many students return to school on Saturdays for study classes.  Can government afford the buckets and chlorinated water for all its students throughout the country?Fifthly, is it realistic to have Liberia’s  students in schools surrounded by  garbage and clogged drainages?  Can city councils and townships guarantee that the garbage dumps or heaps are removed at least on a twice-weekly basis, that drainages are daily?  Can the Ministry of Health deploy its sanitation inspectors—if they have any—to ensure that people stop clogging the drainages with trash?  We know why garbage dumps and clogged drainages are harmful to school surroundings, for the are always infested with some of the most dangerous disease-carrying creatures— mosquitoes, rats, roaches, worms, etc.  Sixthly, will there be a temperature screening system in place for the thousands of students arriving daily at say over 7000 schools from various communities around the country? If the various government ministries and agencies have furloughed their non-essential staff to lessen the Ebola  risk, is it realistic and safe to reopen schools with far higher populations?The reopening of schools would admittedly be an opportunity for the Ministry of Education, school authorities, teachers and even more advanced students to participate  actively in the awareness process, first by being tutored in all the anti-disease or virus procedures, such as hand washing; observing strict hygiene rules; and insisting, as never before, on cleanliness in the school building, yard and neighborhood. But before schools can be reopened, all of the above issues have to be addressed, otherwise it would be indeed highly risky for our students to return to school.What this means is that government and all operators of private schools, colleges and universities, have to address each of the issues raised, before they can even think of reopening their educational institutions.These issues, admittedly, constitute a very serious headache for GOL and all other educational operators, especially in this era of “budget shortfall” and the stupendous financial challenges GOL and everyone of us face because of Ebola. But these issues must be addressed before anyone can think of reopening their doors to the hundreds of thousands of students hungry for learning.   Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Sevilla clash bigger than Liverpool, says Mourinho

first_img0Shares0000United go into the clash with the Spanish side following a morale boosting win over the Reds that put them in pole position to secure second position in the English Premier League behind Manchester City.LONDON, United Kingdom, Mar 13 – Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has said that beating Sevilla in Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg will be more important than their 2-1 league victory over rivals Liverpool.United go into the clash with the Spanish side following a morale boosting win over the Reds that put them in pole position to secure second position in the English Premier League behind Manchester City. Mourinho emphasised the need for his team to retain their dominance internationally after winning the Europa League last season.The first leg tie between the two teams finished in a goalless stalemate in Spain, and United will be confident that home advantage on Tuesday night will work in their favour.“Tomorrow is more important than the win over Liverpool because Saturday was a match for points that we still have 24 more points to discuss, 24 more points to try to finish in the top four, to try to finish third, to try to finish second if possible,” Mourinho told reporters on Monday.“But tomorrow and Saturday against Brighton are the matches where, in the end, you go to the next draw or you don’t go to the next draw. So, of course, knockout becomes more important than league matches.”The Portuguese manager also downplayed his side’s chances to contest the European title, telling the media that United is not among the best teams in the competition.He added: “I don’t think we are one of the best teams in the competition. But I think when a team arrives in the last eight, anything can happen.“I think when you are in the last 16; it looks really, really far. But when a team gets in the last eight, you start smelling semi-finals and I think when a team gets into the last eight, the feeling is, of course, you are among the best.“But anything can happen, so let’s see what happens tomorrow. I think tomorrow is a very difficult match.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more