Codes of Conduct Distributed As Teachers Return to Schools

MONROVIA, Montserrado – As more than 50,000 teachers across Liberia return to teaching this week, they will each be receiving a copy of a code of conduct.

While Felicia Doe-Sumah, the assistant minister for basic and secondary education, said the initiative to publish and distribute the booklet was launched in early 2014, this is the first time the Ministry of Education is ensuring that every teacher has a copy of the code of conduct.

Doe-Sumah said 49,000 copies had already been sent to the various counties for school administrators to pick them up from district education offices in time for the beginning of classes.

The ministry had always had some rules in place for teachers to abide by, but Doe-Sumah said these were distributed in multiple documents such as the Education Reform Act of 2011 and the National Education Policies and the Liberia Education Administrative Regulations booklets. Additionally, these documents have never before been distributed directly to teachers – school administrators had been expected to communicate the regulations and policies to them.

Doe-Sumah said it was important that teachers receive the code of conduct because “we know we have a lot of issues around abuses in the schools.”

“It gives you a referral pathway so when these things happen, you know what to do,” she said, adding that teachers would have to sign a form acknowledging receipt of the code of conduct and agreeing to abide by it.

Many portions of the code of conduct booklet are a regurgitation of existing laws and regulations. Sometimes, there appears to be little effort to simplify the legal jargon. The booklet, however, contains a crucial section that includes a variety of penalties to be taken against teachers who violate specific rules.

Teachers are explicitly forbidden from “marrying a grade-school (grades 1-12) student currently enrolled in formal school” in addition to engaging in “sexual or romantic relationship with a student in the formal school system regardless of the age of the student and/or whether the student consents.”

Doe-Sumah said to ensure that students are aware of their rights and the responsibilities of teachers, a summary factsheet would also be distributed them.

“If we say we want to improve the system, we cannot have teachers who are violating the students’ rights, who are not doing what they are supposed to do, who are creating reasons for students to misbehave.”

Featured photo by Jefferson Krua

Jefferson is a co-owner of The Bush Chicken. He has a Masters in Transportation Infrastructure and Systems Engineering.

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