Today, January 7th, 2014, the temperature in New Carrollton, Maryland, USA is 5 degrees. Prince George’s County Schools were 2 hrs delayed in opening for the school day, due to the blistering cold and breezy weather! Though the School Bus came to get the students to transport them to school, I decided to drive my 9 years old daughter to school (mommy duties). As we drove up to the school entrance, the Principal and some faculty members of the school were waiting outside to open parent’s car doors so that the students will get out of their parent’s cars without the parents getting out of their cars. There were other members of the faculty available to escort the children in the dining hall so that they would get their breakfast before going to classes! My daughter said she was full so she would skip breakfast at school, but she would rather eat lunch at school as she is slated to attend computer classes after school, in that way, she will be full, by the time she got home!
This reminded me of my own young days as an elementary school student at the New Kru Town Elementary School, Monrovia, Liberia, where I started my own educational journey within the Montserrado County School System. We did not have school buses, so we walked to school as the school was within the community. Every morning, Principal Jeremiah Doe (RIP) and his faculty would stand in front of the school waiting for us students to ensure that our scobees (tennis shoes) were cleaned and that we were properly dressed for school. We would get in line to salute the flag and afterwards, we would proceed to our classes as we glance at Mrs. Sarah Wayne and Mrs. Sue Tweh (both now deceased), preparing fried cornmeal Karla, hot cornmeal cereal, buckwheat or klim milk, in the school kitchen for us to eat for the day. Mrs. Amelia Holmes, Mrs. Ora Krangar, Mrs. Sartee and other teachers would than prepare their students to get in line to get breakfast or lunch whichever one that was available or provided for the day. Even though it was one meal a day, we still had food to eat at school! Sometimes, the food would be divided to the students uncooked so that our parents would prepare the food for us to eat at home!
As I have always maintained, the concept of Principals and Faculties of schools genuinely caring for students has always been in Liberia, as it is in other parts of the world. The School System in Montserrado County, Liberia sometimes fed their students, prior to the Civil War. Due to the Civil War, the genuine sense of duty with which each person performed their national duty has diminished. Feeding programs in government schools are not a priority these days as it used to be. We must make feeding programs a priority in our Government Schools! Feeding Programs within Government Schools should be a national policy! Children must be fed in schools as it only helps them concentrate better on their lesson and it also keeps them happy, while in school. During recess, children who are well fed also play well and embrace physical play such as jumping rope, hopscotch and sports. It takes motivation and a genuine sense of commitment for us to embrace the same concepts we had in Liberia, prior to the war. What can we do to ensure that our students are well cared for and fed whilst in school? Through constructive dialogue and critical thinking we can begin to better our school system again.
What is your own take on this subject?