Amid Surge in Interest, Principal Proposes Increasing Classroom Sizes at Bridge-operated School

GANTA, Nimba – A surge of interest in enrollment has led the principal of the Tonglewin Elementary Public School to call on its operator, Bridge International Academies, to allow the school to increase classroom sizes.

There have been reports across the country of parents rushing to register their children at schools participating in the Ministry of Education’s Partnership Schools for Liberia initiative. The program will have government elementary schools operated by private entities.

Justine G. Mantor, the principal of the school, said parents are still requesting their children’s involvement in the program.

“We are only permitted to register 45 students per class, but parents are still coming to us to register their children, and we cannot do anything,” he said. “That is the amount Bridge told us to register in class.”

Mantor said due to the demand by parents to have their children participate in the program, he is calling on Bridge to allow him to increase classroom sizes.

“They told us to enroll 45 students per class ,” he said. “But parents are still bringing their children, so we as staff and parents are appealing to Bridge through their good office to increase their enrollment to at least 60 students per class because right now, most of the students have been left out.”

All students at Bridge-operated schools are required to take placement exams.

“We are enrolling both old and new students in the program through a simple placement exam and not an entrance exam,” Mantor said. “The students will be asked to read… and once they are able to read what is given to them, we enroll them in the program.”

Besides the novelty of the program, much of the excitement has to do with the strict enforcement of the free and compulsory education policy with schools participating in the initiative. While primary education is required to be free in Liberia by law, many public schools still charge registration and Parent Teacher Association fees.

“This program will be providing free education to students [from nursery to grade six], and the students will be learning from the computer. Their teaching will be done from the notes on the computers that Bridge has provided,” Mantor said.

Mantor said students will be given uniforms, socks, and notebooks. The school will also run longer than normal, from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.

Bridge is operating a total of 24 schools, along with seven other operators for a total over 94 schools in thirteen counties.

Featured photo by Arrington Ballah

A resident of Ganta, Nimba County, Arrington has a background working with credit unions and other organizations dedicated to rural finance.

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