Female students in the southeastern counties of River Gee and Grand Kru have vowed to reports to their school administrators and parents any acts of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) and other forms of misbehaviour by teachers and students against them.
Their position followed a recent two-day session organized at the Barclayville City Hall in Grand Kru County by Peace Corps volunteers of the United States of America working to help strengthen the education system of Liberia.
The students described the interactive session as timely, saying it gave them the opportunity to be aware of basic rights they have as both females and students.
For a long time now, it has been perceived that some classroom teachers in certain schools in urban and rural settings would engage in ‘sex for grade’, an act the ministries of Education, Gender, Children and Social Protection, UN Women and others have been heavily campaigning to end, even though it remains unclear whether any such case has been prosecuted in court.
The engagement in Barclayville saw an assembly of over 50 students and teachers from River Gee and Grand Kru counties who were drilled through models that can result in better student-teacher relations in the classroom and on campus, and not extra relationships that will cause harm for mainly female pupils, such as SEA and other forms of corruption by teachers.
Moreover, the Education Program Manager of the Peace Corps, Samuel Sampson, added that the engagement sought to remind teachers and school administrators of the ethical and moral standards governing the sector, as well as design methodologies on what kinds of corrective measures (punishments) a teacher can give a student that would not hinder the child’s learning process.
Sampson urged education stakeholders and interest groups in these counties and, by extension, the national government through the Ministry of Education, to allow for students to take part in major decision-making processes that concern the strengthening of the learning system.
The presence of American Peace Corps volunteers teaching at nearly eighty schools throughout the country has added more value to Liberia’s education system, especially the sciences, said Sampson.
Before and after the 14-year civil unrest in Liberia, American Peace Corps teachers were welcomed by the government of Liberia to beef up the academic system and provide mentorship at primary and high school levels, an intervention since well-embraced by parents and youths in urban and rural communities.
During the symposium, the Chief Education Officer (CEO) of Grand Kru County, David Bokai, hailed the initiative by the Peace Corps volunteers, indicating that the two-day session on SEA was a positive step towards entirely realigning the learning system as such exercise seeks to remove vices that have the tendency to affect students negatively.