Tuesday, October 27, 2015

School breaking the rules?

The principal of Ricks Institute (Dr Olu Menjay) complained about comments by the Minister of Education who claimed that Ricks wasn't abiding by the rules and regs : "Minster Werner made three allegations on ELBC Radio insinuating that the motives of the parents of Ricks students were not clear; that “one or two” students at Ricks have been abused; and that Ricks receives significant government money and, therefore, should be in compliance with every mandate from the Ministry of Education (MOE)."

Yes, I gather it does receive significant government money: the Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare coughed up a goodly chunk of change to educate 30 girls for 5 years, though when I looked up Rick's fee schedule it looks like the amount is less than the full rate. (When I was last there the school had just started allowing children of the village on-site to attend for free. Menjay doesn't mention that in challenging the claim of elitism--I wonder if they still do it.)

The article above gives the Ricks side of the story. That isn't quite fair; even a Minister of Education deserves to have his side heard. This one gives both. "Minister Werner said although stakeholders at the last consultative meeting agreed for schools to promote 9th and 12th graders, but should not have graduation ceremony; however, Ricks chose to violate and charged students US$200.00 as graduation fee." That sort of shenanigans is par for the course in Liberia, though I'd be disappointed in Menjay if he was extorting money. But the report also says "Commenting on Ricks' recent graduation ceremony, Minister Werner said the school acted the way it acted because of the support of parents currently working in government."

So at least some of the parents wanted a graduation. Or maybe the school went in for extra work to make up for the Ebola hiatus: the usual end of the school year is in June. This year all schools were supposed to close 31-July; the graduation seems to have been 18-October.

Ricks used to (and may still) be one of the best schools in Liberia, and did have children of government figures attending. In between school pride and pressure from well-connected parents (and a dislike of centralized mandates), I think I might have poked the MoE in the eye too. I lived on the campus for a while but I didn't attend Ricks: it was good wrt Liberia but not wrt USA standards. I went to ACS.

No comments: