By: Rancy S. Teewia
The Director of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA), Mr. Henry O. Williams has blamed the ineffectiveness on the part of the Liberia Educational system as a major factor responsible for the death of 27 students at the Malaka Quranic Memorization Center in Paynesville.
Mr. Williams who extended his condolences to the bereaved families for the loss of the lives of their kids and teacher, said the tragic fire incident that befell the Malaka Quranic Memorization Centers which is a branch of the United Dawah Ummah Mission School at the 17th Street in Sinkor, would not have occurred if the Liberian educational system was checking on public and private school facilities amongst others.
He indicated that effective supervision and monitoring of the school system would ensure the alleviation of risks and the improvement of good learning atmosphere for students.
The NDMA Boss made the statement on Thursday September 19, 2019, during his exclusive interview with a team of Journalists at his office in Monrovia.
He underscored the need for Liberia to build a resilient educational system that should take all factors into consideration in order to avoid tragic incidents such as the one that consumed the lives of the 27 kids and their teachers at the Quranic Memorizing School last Tuesday night.
Lack of a resilient school system in the country and the condition of inaccessibility at some school campuses, Mr. Williams said, are some of the factors that led to the death of the 27 students on that fateful Tuesday, September 17 at the Malaka Mission School in the Bob Taylor Community in Paynesville.
He explained that the Malaka Quranic Memorization Center facility is said to have a single entry which is also used as exit, a situation which might have prevented the rescuers access to the students.
“We Liberians need to have a resilient school system wherein lot of factors will be looked at, including building’s conditions of accessibility to avert future recurrence of the tragedy,” Mr. Williams emphasized.
He therefore recommended to relevant ministries and agencies that every school and/or facility should have fire extinguishers in order to prevent fire disasters of this magnitude.
He also said risk management teams and officers should assess all schools to report every necessary information pertaining to risk factors observed in these facilities.
“Risk management and officers should report every information pertaining to risks in those facilities because some schools’ conditions are very bad; and if risk officer takes notice of risk issues at their facilities, we will begin to take action,” he said.
He said the NDMA already held a meeting with local and international partners, government ministries and agencies and private sectors; and they came up with rapid assessment team that will do the assessment of the fire outbreak at United Dawah Ummah’s Malaka Mission School facility in Paynesville.
“We had the meeting today to see how we can coordinate our activities and efforts toward the incident that happened,” he averred.
According to him, the partners finally came up with rapid assessment team that will do the assessment of the fire outbreak that killed the school going children Tuesday.
At the same time, Mr. William called on all assessment team to work with the National Disaster Management Agencies which he pointed out has the mandate to response to disaster in the country.