By Stephen G. Fellajuah
The Attorney General of Liberia of the Republic of Liberia and Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean and the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel Falo Mcgill urged the MCSS Teachers Association (MCSSTA to seek dialogue as the best way of finding solutions to problems confronting them. The Ministers at the same time commended the Liberia National Police for engaging student protesters professionally without grave eventualities, describing the police intervention as excellent.
For his part, Cllr. Dean said the student who blocked some major streets in Monrovia demanding the government to pay their teacher’s salary arrears attacked the police from various fronts in a circular formation.
Speaking Tuesday, October 15, 2019, at a one-day dialogue with MCSS administration and teachers’ association at the William V. S. Tubman High School in on 12th Street Sinkor in Monrovia, Minister Dean said the students clogged major streets and avenues in Monrovia thereby creating impassable vehicular and pedestrians movements, chanting “Pay our teachers.” The situation, he said, stopped normal activity and created pandemonium among residents and commuters, which the Liberia National Police (LNP) swiftly engaged and successfully put down the protesting students’ agitation.
The dialogue was also attended by the National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL) and the Government of Liberia during which the Minister Dean said the day of the protest is regrettable and saddening for the country. “What happened was unacceptable, and I don’t think it was pre-calculated,” he said.
Minister Dean said the decision made by the students to protest was associated with intruders who intended to disturb the peace and threatens the security of the country, describing the performance of the Liberia National Police (LNP) as “excellent.”
He however regrets the situation where people got wounded, but clarified that there is no MCSS student in jail, although some protesting students were manhandled by police during the protest, resulting from the throwing of teargas to physical injuries as they were taken to hospitals, treated and discharged.
The Justice Minister said, “We do not want to encourage violence,” and noted, “The dialogue would have prevented the protest from occurring.” He maintained that dialogue is the most acceptable way to resolve issues and urged Liberians to cultivate the spirit of dialogue and strengthen the mechanism for more dialogues.
The meeting was attended by Deputy Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), the Minister of Education, Liberia National Police, the MCSS Teachers Association (MCSSTA) and the National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL) among others.
Also speaking at the meeting was the Minister of State for Presidential Affair, Nathanial McGill said the gathering of the students in the streets was an unhappy day, and reasoned that they went there in solidarity to draw government’s attention to their concerns. “It is about time we give MCSS the kind of support it needs,” he said.
Minister McGill expressed optimism that the doors of the Ministry Of States are opened to the Monrovia Consolidated School System and the National Teachers Association Liberia to talk about issues relating to the progress of the teachers associations.
He reiterated, “Dialogue is the way forward.” According to him, others use protest to cause problem and make the students look bad, promising to implement outcome of the meeting, and admonished the teachers association to guard their children against being used.
Shortly after meeting with MCSS and NTAL, Minister McGill had another meeting with some of the students who appeared with wounds on their bodies. The students reported to the minister that some of their colleagues were in need of medical attention as a result of the injuries sustained during the protest.
The State and Presidential Affairs Minister, having listened to the students, and promised to settle their medical bills.
Speaking earlier, the Minister of Education, Prof. D. Ansu Sonii, applauded the MCSSTA for their cooperation in making the dialogue a success and urged the teachers to seek dialogue because dialogue is the best way of finding solutions.