First Batch of Firestone High School graduates after 83 years of operation in Liberia
First Batch of Firestone High School graduates after 83 years of operation in Liberia

Employees of Firestone Liberia have applauded what they call the ‘massive social transformation’ currently taking place throughout the concessionaire area.

Free education, health care and free transport services, construction of more modern housing units, schools and health facilities are among many of social services Firestone Liberia is now providing than ever before, the Parents-Teachers Association Chairman of the Firestone Senior High School, Mr. Railley Jallah says.

Speaking at the first ever senior high graduation exercises of the school held recently, with 146 students receiving high school diplomas, Mr. Jallah said things have significantly changed at In Firestone, and these changes have brought huge benefits to employees, predominantly tappers, and their children.

Firestone Liberia is the oldest rubber concession company in Liberia. The Liberian government and the world’s second largest rubber agricultural estate entered into a 99 year agreement in 1926. The agreement between the Liberian government and the company has been reviewed in recent years and extended, setting the stage for huge benefits for the workers—taking into account workers and their children’s welfare, rise in salaries, new housing facilities, among others.

The company has in recent years stamped out child labor and abuse—stopping parents and guardians from taking children with them into the tapping bushes as helpers—and  has built more schools, increasing school enrollment in the concession area to thousands.

“The management of Firestone Liberia has provided healthier, conducive and comfortable learning environment for children of employees. Across the length and breadth of the concession area, we also see the management of Firestone building new schools.

In addition, these schools are equipped with qualified instructional staffs that are not only providing education, but qualified education to our children,” the PTA chair, Jallah said.

Mr. Jallah boasted that Firestone Liberia has one of the best school system in the country, evidenced by “our students’ performance” in the West African Examination Council (WAEC) exams.

A total of 163 12th graders from Firestone Senior High sat the WAEC exams, and 146 (89%) successfully passed, listing the school among academic institutions that performed very well in this year’s WAEC exam that recorded one of the highest failures in recent years.

“We can boast that our children are attending the best school. We are proud to boast because we have everything that can make us to boast,” the enthralled PTA boss said.

He said few years ago employees at Firestone sent their children to the Liberian capital (Monrovia) and to other parts of the country to acquire secondary education, since Firestone’s school system was only at junior high level, “But today, the story is completely different”.

“The management of Firestone has taken that burden from our shoulders; our children are now staying with us, right here in Firestone, to obtain senior high education,” Mr. Jallah continued. “Our campus is second to none in the country; our school has a well staff and equipped science laboratory, computer laboratory and library, and qualified instructional staff.”

Besides provision of quality educational services, Mr. Jallah hailed the Firestone Management for its replanting program; he claimed the replanting program is providing employment opportunities for thousands of Liberians. He also applauded the provision of free and quality health services for employees and their children.

He said the company was providing free transportation for workers and children to go to work and school respectively, in any part of the concession area, while it was also providing scholarships to hundreds of Liberian youth to seek university education at any university in the country.

Mr. Jallah termed these developments as being very significant and need to be recognized and commended, urging every parents in the graduation hall to rise as a sign of appreciation to the Firestone Management for a “job well done”.

He called for the parent’s cooperation with the school and urged them not to leave the education of their children with the teachers alone—similar called made recently by the principal of the Jimmy Jolocon High School, Mr. Emmanuel D Weiah.

“Parents nowadays are not taking into consideration that they have a responsibility—everything is left to the children,” Mr. Weiah pointed out. He said unlike before, when parents were very concerned about their children’s education and learning progress, most parents of today show ‘don’t-care’ attitudes.

“For example, parents register their kids in school and you don’t see them [parents] for the whole year until the end of the year, and they expect good results, and I believe this is unfair,” Mr. Weiah said and added, “Paying of school fees by parents is not the end of parents’ role in their children’s education quest; you go to the children [at school]; you must monitor their activities; many of them don’t even ask their children about school or home work.”

Like Mr. Weiah, Mr. Jallah told parents of Firestone Senior High School that while Firestone Management is washing their backs, they must muster the courage to wash their bellies. “We must graduate from our lackadaisical and awake from our slumbers and be proactive,” he cautioned.

He is of the conviction that the Harbel Senior High School located in Division 44, will even do better in the next WAEC exam; writes D K Sengbeh.  Contact: 231 6 586 531; editoratinformer@yahoo.com

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