By Antoinette Sendolo
As part of efforts to strengthen and empower young girls in Liberia, the President has announced a program to be implemented in the next fiscal year that will offer financial support to all girls willing to remain in school until the completion of high school.
In a nation-wide address, Madam Sirleaf noted that education remains a number one priority in the development of Liberia and the most difficult to show positive results in the short term.
According to the President, the country has succeeded in the achievement of quantity goals by increased enrollment, but the quality of education has declined even further and this is evidenced by the continuous failure in the entrance exam to the University of Liberia and in the WAEC exams which have now been set at a substandard level for Liberia.
“The problem of education in Liberia goes deeper and beyond the lack of qualified teachers, the lack of facilities and supplies, and the lack of incentive,” President Sirleaf added.
She said the vastness of the challenge and the implication to the overall development effort, compel all Liberians to come together to formulate bold strategic action to fix it, noting that “it is a must for the future of the country and for the education of girls who do not go beyond middle school and are at high risk of exploitation”.
Meanwhile, the President has called upon all educators, educational institution leaders, eligible concerned citizens and partners to join in a review and update the Comprehensive Education Reform Program which is underway by the Ministry of Education.
The Liberian leader added that the Ebola Outbreak prevented the opening of schools in September, making virtually idle young people and school teachers.
Madam Sirleaf disclosed that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning is working with the Ministry of Education to determine the way forward in phasing the finances required in order that schools are opened on the target date, or not too much later.
She also disclosed that a widespread consultation is underway with selected authorities, education leaders, Parents Teachers Associations and community based organizations to inform them on the protocol for the Ebola prevention and to obtain consensus on the need for the early opening of schools to return our students to the business of learning.
“The cost of opening schools, as proposed by public, private schools and higher education’s institutions is simply prohibitive. Making the schools conducive for learning by undertaking the massive renovation required and ensuring Ebola preventive measures, including the provision of clean water and sanitation, needs to be in place”.