The Richard M Nixon Institute (RMNI) is a K-12 school of 328 students located in Monrovia, Liberia, West Africa which has been closed since mid-March due to COVID-19. RMNI has been a leading educational institution in Liberia for 50 years and is a legacy of African achievement and excellence. The school empowers students from all incomes and over 60% of RMNI students benefit from scholarships. Students at RMNI will return to school on August 16 after five months of education loss. We want to prepare for their return by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and repairing facilities to ensure they return to a safe and healthy school environment.
This isn’t the first time these young students have faced disruptions to their education. RMNI and other schools in Liberia were closed for an additional seven months during the Ebola epidemic in 2014-2015! These children just cannot catch a break! Yet, RMNI continues to march forward and build generations of educated and engaged citizens. Our students keep moving forward as well, driven by their belief in themselves and their futures. They refuse to give up no matter the obstacles in their path.
And there are many obstacles. While children in developing countries have continued their education through remote learning, students at RMNI and around Liberia and Africa have had their education put completely on hold (for a second time in five years!). The students and their families do not have access to the types of technology available in the West to continue their educational progress remotely. Although their parents can’t necessarily help them with their schoolwork, when our students are in the classroom, they are self-motivated to work toward a strong future for themselves and their families. Let’s help Liberia catch up!
The school needs an overhaul before students can be safely allowed back on campus.
Once Western children return to school, their families know the facilities will be safe and clean with adequate bathrooms and necessary PPE for all. However, none of these things are guaranteed at RMNI. We need these funds to help these students catch up on their education and go back to school in a safe and healthy academic environment.
Around the world, schools are cleaning the facilities and investing in PPE equipment to ensure the school is safe for students and staff to return. Social distancing is not very easy at overcrowded schools and across Africa, so PPE is particularly important in this context.
At RMNI, the bathrooms are a particularly weak point for students. The school has one bathroom for the girls and one bathroom for the boys, meaning there is little opportunity to clean between uses. Neither bathroom has a sink, preventing students from maintaining even the most basic hygiene standards. The school has a plan to build a new bathroom complex to increase the number of stalls for students and staff and reduce crowding in this area and accommodate increased handwashing between classes.
The campus is unpaved and recent studies show that higher dust particles from sources such as unpaved roads may make people more vulnerable to Coronavirus. Imagine having no choice but to send your child to a school that will make them more likely to contract Coronavirus. To protect our students and their families, we need to improve the campus and reduce particle pollution by paving the dirt roads on campus.
Our students deserve only the best. They should be allowed to take their safe school setting for granted. We will empower them to focus all their energies on what should be the full-time job of all children: learning.
We will make the school environment safe in a post-COVID world:
- Upgrading the bathrooms
- Paving the dirt roads and paths and painting the walls to decrease particle pollution
- Purchasing and distributing PPE for students and staff
- Setting up handwashing stations
RMNI is opening again on August 16. We are excited to get ready for our students to return! Our students can't wait to return and we want to surprise them with a brand new (and safer) look to their school!
Thank you for reading RMNI’s story and contributing to a more equitable world. We appreciate any help or contribution, no matter how big or small! If possible, please share our campaign link on social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and with your friends. We will keep you posted on the use of funds and our progress going forward.
Francois Demonique, president of the RMNI Alumni Association, is also president of Donate A Desk Foundation USA and the foundation is supporting this initiative and donating 100 school desks for the school reopening in 2020.
The Richard M. Nixon Institute Alumni Association (RMNIAA), founded in 2010, is an alumni-led social and service organization, bridging the past and future for the benefit of the Richard M. Nixon Institute. For the school's 50th anniversary, the Alumni Association has taken on the charge to raise the funding needed to rebuild the campus's worn infrastructure, erect a new school facility on the same grounds, and provide operational budget and scholarships for the school to continue its mission; to provide opportunities for the underprivileged to have access to high-quality education so that they may serve their community more effectively.
To my fellow Alumni! Please join us. We are planning on celebrating 50 years of Richard M. Nixon Institute in Monrovia Liberia. which will culminate in a big end of the year reunion party in December 2020. We need you all to reach out to other alumni if you are in contact with past classmates or can help with a search.
We want to know what you remember about your days at Richard M. Nixon Institute Monrovia, Liberia, how it impacted your life, and what you are currently doing. If you have anything to brag about, we want to know so we can brag about you!
Most of all, we want you to celebrate with us and unlock wonderful memories from your days at Richard M. Nixon Institute. Please friend us on Facebook and post your name and comments to complete the alumni survey on this page. We will keep you informed about the reunion events once the dates are solidified and confirmed.
Francois Caesar Wulu Demonique
Member of classes of 71 to 75