Proposing A National Education Conference

Given the shocking headlines of recent days, regarding the mass failure of applicants who sat the examinations for admission to the University of Liberia and taken into account the ongoing downward trend of Liberia’s education system, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said it is imperative to speak about the quality of education in schools today.

President Sirleaf recalled that those of her age, who are old enough to remember, can look back fondly on their school days, and say they are proud of the quality education received. She said the educational system was then highly competitive and demanding where the schools, teachers, students and even the region competed for excellence. The Liberian leader noted that indiscipline and insolence were dealt with very firmly while cheating and other vices inimical to progress and productivity were not tolerated.

Delivering the 14th commencement convocation of the Catholic- owned Stella Maris Polytechnic on Friday August 30, 2013, at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville City, Dr. Sirleaf explained that while government applauds the establishment of many institutions of learning, it is also concerned about the quality of training in all institutions.

The Liberian leader told the audience and the graduating class that government recognizes that it is not sufficient to simply turn out graduates like an assembly line; rather, it is imperative to graduate young people who have received the quality of education that makes them marketable in the private sector.

Similarly, Central Bank of Liberia’s Executive Governor Dr. J. Mills Jones has said that it is important to have the will to hold accountable those responsible for reforming Liberia’s education system. Governor Jones said it cannot be overemphasized that quality education is sine qua non for development and it is a major part of the recipe for building a competitive, diversified economy.

The CBL Executive Governor also noted that Quality Education is a necessary complement to investment in infrastructure to move an economy forward and further stressed that a good education is necessary to get Liberia over the hump of the crippling notion of tribalism and sectionalism as well as it is critical to building an ethos of a united nation, where the mantra of the citizens will be, Liberia first.

Delivering the Commencement Address last Saturday at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), Dr. Jones said failure to put the country’s educational system on a higher plane is tantamount to gambling with the future of the country. Dr. Jones said given where we are on the development ladder, gambling on the future is a luxury that we cannot afford. He said Liberia must start to fix the problem now with a clearly defined road map with goals and timelines.

With such comments coming from two of Liberia’s well- educated individuals, namely, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, coupled with the mass failure of students in public test, there is no secret that the country’s education sector is in serious problem and as such needs attention and reform. Such a reform as we all know cannot be an event but a process that will automatically require the efforts of all well- meaning citizens especially those charged with the responsibility of molding the mind of the country’s future leaders. To reform Liberia’s education system and bring it on par with those in the West African Sub-region and enable Liberian students compete internationally, we need to develop a serious national strategy.

As a way forward in ensuring this national endeavor, we are proposing a National Education Conference at which stakeholders, not only from Liberia but coming from the sub-region and other developed countries, can brainstorm and propose a lasting solution.  Such a conference could design strategies that will ensure curriculum development and better teaching pattern. Major policies could derive from such a forum. The conference could derive at the fact that every school in Liberia needs a library, a science laboratory and more importantly ensure that adequate funding is made available to the country’s education sector.

Thus, we challenge stakeholders, national government and Liberia’s International partners to ensure that this cause is advanced, properly planned and executed in a bid to remodel Liberia’s education system and save the country from the shame of mass failure, and other vices that are destroying the sector.