Monrovia – State run University of Liberia has not shown sign of running vacation classes for couple of years, and this has triggered concerns from some Liberians, including actors in the educational sector.
And students of the university say vacation classes could help them speed up with their study and limit the long stay at the institution.
Varlington Karpennon, a senior student of Economics, says UL needs to drive in the path of other private universities by including vacation classes.
He said the lack of vacation classes has contributed to prolonged stay of students at the institution.
“Other universities are offering vacation classes; I don’t know why the state run university is not doing that. Even though things are becoming better on campus, but some of us have stay long time here,” said Karpennon, who entered the university in 2009.
“Sometime we can drop one or two semesters, vacation classes will be very helpful to close some of the gab we can create while dropping along the way.”
Dave Momo, a junior of the electrical engineering department, described as “unfortunate” for private universities to be offering vacation classes while the state-run institution is yet to do same.
He said there are students who have too many courses to complete, and that the UL academic semester is not sufficient enough to speed up their courses.
“If the UL administration starts offering vacation classes, it would enable some of us to complete our require courses sooner and we will not spend long time at UL,” Momo said.
But it seems that the University of Liberia is yet to reintroduce vacation classes. It says lack of funding and low interest from students is challenges.
Norris Tweah, UL Vice President for Public Relation, told FrontPage Africa the demand for vacation classes must come from students.
Tweah said the UL is not interested in vacation classes because it is intact with its academic activities.
“I think, part of the reason while is that we on schedule, we are on time with our academic semester and so there is no need for vacation school or classes unless before where it was very difficult, but we are really on our regularity,” he said.
He said vacation classes at the university would be costly, adding that a previous attempt to reintroduce vacation did not attract the targeted amount of students.
As a result of this, Tweah said, the university could not pay instructors, thereby resulting to the cancellation of the process.
“We didn’t have the number of students and we need certain amount of students to be able to run the entire cluster academic semester, because we have to pay teachers and staffs because everybody will be working overtime,” he said, adding that UL does not have the needed resources to run vacation classes.
“Vacation school supposed to pay for itself in order to run effectively, we have to charge a little more and our students already have serious challenge of making their payments, so when we expanded that fee it did hold because students were not on time.”
He argued that conducting vacation classes would create burden for students who are already complaining over hike in tuition.
At the same time, he asserted that the current academic trend of the university is sufficient because the institution has regularized its activities in speeding up with graduation process.
Tweah said unlike in the past when academic activities were at slow pace, the UL is now effectively completing its academic activities, which has curtailed prolong stay at the state run institution.
Meanwhile, the University of Liberia has alarmed against rioting and has warned students to desist from protesting in 2018.
The university administration said disturbances created by students would not be tolerated as the institution resumes academic activities this year.
In a recent communication, UL President Dr. Ophelia Weeks said instead of using the ‘radical approach’, students should constructively engage the administration.
“The University of Liberia is warning students to immediately desist from any planned class disruption or student protest as the institution commences regular academic activity in calendar year 2018, and encourages students to find constructive ways to engage administration,” Weeks said in a communication.
The state run university is often embroiled in protest emulating from students’ dissatisfaction.
But UL said the repeated demonstrations have led to the destruction of properties and caused serious bodily injuries to some students.
“In December of 2017, rioting students torn up exam papers, hurled filthy water at fellow students and professors, and disrupted midterm exams, among others,” UL administration said.
It further condemned “violent and disruptive behaviors” of students and warned that such disorderly conduct amounts to violation of rules outline in the UL Handbook.
Moreover, the University noted that it has instituted a special investigative body consistent with due process as outlined in its student handbook to determine facts from recent vandalism of its Fendell Campus.
“So far, based on the various reports that have been submitted to the UL Administration, a number of students have been identified as either the ringleaders behind these disturbances or as active participants. Those who have been identified have been invited to appear before the special investigative body,” the UL President said.
The administration said students violating the handbook would be expel from the university if found guilty, adding “or they could be turned over to the Liberia National Police for prosecution, where it established that such disruptive behavior or action amounts to a clear violation of any provision of the penal law of Liberia.”
Weeks, in the statement, also noted that while the UL respects and upholds the practice of free speech and the right to free assembly as fundamental constitutional guarantees, it however will not tolerate disorderly behavior that contravenes rules and regulations in the student’s handbook.