An investigation conducted by the Independent and Authoritative Heritage Newspaper divulged that there is no community radio station in Gbarma District, Gbarpolu County. Gbarma District is the third-most populated district in Gbarpolu County with 15,972 inhabitants, according to the census conducted by the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) in 2008.
Residents of Gbarma told this writer that the people rely on the State owned radio station; Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) or Radio Bomi to get information about major happenings in the country. They (residents) said the only radio station, which is in the capital; Bopolu City no longer comes on. Most besides, the station does not have the wave power to reach other major towns and villages or districts including Gbarma.
“There is no radio station in this district. We are trying to bring on air a station to be called the Human Rights Community Rural Radio Station, but as youth and ordinary citizens, we don’t have it all monetarily to accomplish that,” said Mr. Adolphus W. Quaye, acting administrator of the proposed Human Rights Community Radio Station.
According to Mr. Quaye, Senator Armah Zulu Jallah sometimes ago donated a transmitter to the proposed station, but said they (citizens) need more money to get the station on. “We need cement to complete the building. As I speak to you the station is at window level. Even when this building is completed, we need a generator for electricity to keep the station running by the day,” he stated.
“We want to use this medium to call on our county officials to come to the aid of the district. The radio station would be for everybody,” Mr. Quaye furthered. Gbarma District, according to this writer who visited there recently, doesn’t have any center for youth activities or discussion as one may put it. The only things that keep them busy at their (youth) leisure time are the soccer pitches in the district.
Quaye and other youth are again calling on the county leadership to help them get a youth center. “If this radio station can be completed, a part of it can also be used as a youth center. We, too, must have a voice in national discussion,” commented one Momoh Jallah, a youth in Gbarma. The cry for a community radio station and youth center is not the first of its kind in recent time in Gbarma.
It can be recalled that sometimes ago, residents and health workers in the district told this writer that the district has no health center, and that people with critical medical cases are transferred to the Chief Jallon Medical Center in Bopolu City or at the Liberia Government Hospital in Tubmanburg, Bomi County. According to the residents and health workers, the district only has what they called “mini clinics”.
The lack of health center in the district means that the lives of over 15,000 people are in great danger on a daily basis especially during the rainy season. At the same time, there have also been calls by a school authority for the provision of instructional materials. This means that the President’s plan for free education is failing in Gbarpolu County where teachers have no teaching materials, the buildings are in disrepair and the staff-to-student ratio at one school is 75 to 1.
It can be recalled that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s government reintroduced the Compulsory Free Primary Education for public schools in the country. This initiative, which is aimed at reducing the financial burdens on parents and guardians at the early stage of their children education, thereby encouraging high enrollment of students, was also extended to the junior high division in 2011.
A few months into the new school year, teachers and students across the county are learning that free access to education does not mean equal access. The Ministry of Education’s ratio, according to Communication Director, Mr. Martin Bletyn, is one teacher to 45 students. This simply means that the Gbarma scenario is a total contradiction to the MOE’s ratio of teacher to students.
By: Emmanuel Weedee With Support From Heritage/IREX Partnership