By: Winston Howard
Upon my return to Liberia after 36 years in the Diaspora, I was mortified to learn that the entire school calendar had been altered to accommodate individuals who had planned to matriculate to the United States for their collegiate years.
The beginning of the school year was changed from late February to August. I asked several educators and the same response was? We do not want the children who are going to the United States to repeat a semester because of the incongruity between the dates used by the two school systems?
There is rationalization used by the United States for ending the school year in May (or June on the east coast): Convenience.
In the summer months, the weather is warm and families can take their vacations with their children. Also, students can use that time to earn an income at a time when many temporary jobs are readily available. However, in Liberia, the end of the school year falls during a period when the rainy season is at its zenith and it is virtually impossible to go on vacation or to find temporary employment because of the weather.
Having visited Liberia during the summer months, one has to wonder about the heat that the students have to endure in January (the hottest days) in classrooms without electricity (fans and air conditioners). Of the many schools that I visited, none were comfortable.
The rooms were crowded and extremely hot with indoor temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. Students excel when their environment is conducive to learning. During the rainy seasons, the students complained of having to stay indoors consistently during their vacation jobs were not plentiful and the anguish was readily apparent as the youth were frustrated with the current situation at hand which is coupled with massive inflation and unemployment.
Why haven’t the Liberian people voted against this arrangement? Not every Liberian will one day seek an education in the United States. Only a small minority (estimated at less than 700 students) receives 1-20s to matriculate to the United States every year and not everyone will win the DV or have a relative who provides the possibility of citizenship.
The other tens of thousands of graduates are relegated to remain in Liberia. The current school schedule is more of a hindrance than an asset.
A bill should be introduced to the legislature to change the current setup to one that is justifiable.