In Liberia, residents refused to be fooled and mobilize to ensure that their children go to school!
More than 450 community members, residing next to the agro-industrial palm plantation company LAC in Liberia organized the 5th and 7th of October actions to highlight their children’s need to access the company school, which is the only one next to where they live.
Since the beginning of the school year, almost 300 students from the neighboring villages of the palm tree plantations have been refused entry into the company schools, whilst they had been , until then, normally accepted. Indeed, according to the agreements which the company signed with the local communities, to compensate for villagers’ loss of land by, among other, granting access to the villagers’ children to the company schools. This year however, it is said that the management of LAC has ordered the schools not to welcome the children of neighboring communities, under the guise that suddenly ‘school are overpopulated’.
Community members and parents, organized in the LACDISTFAC community organization, ask the schools to grant immediate access to the children of their villages. In order to ensure that their demand was heard, they organized several actions last week, such as sit-ins, singing and concerts in front of the schools. The first one took place the 5th of October in front of Nain Camp School. Very quickly the police arrived, confiscated the camera of the only journalist there and ordered that the crowd disperse. Their order was further reinforced when the private security guards of the company arrive, asking the leaders to stop the action and promising a meeting with management the next day.
Thursday the 6th of October, the representatives of the community members thus went in good faith to meet management and seek a solution to this issue. However, the meeting far from being a negotiation to solve the issue only showcased a series of threats from the management – arrest, prison – to convince the representatives to stop their protests.
As a result, the next day, Friday the 7th of October, villagers from the other division of the plantation joined the first group, and both groups organized a new action, in front of the same school, singing the same demand and showcasing that they will not be threatened and will not back down until they get what they are asking for.
Following this last action, the company management has promised to enroll students in the 2nd semester. But parents are asking that their children be enroll immediately for them to not accumulate more disadvantage in the year. Their actions are thus going to continue, until their demands are heard.
PS: We would have loved to show more pictures, but as we said above the police confiscated the cameras and stopped the journalist from filming…!