The All Liberian Party has rejected the Ministry of Education’s new education reform program referred to as the Public Private Partnership program intended for secondary school here.
In a statement issued in Monrovia, the ALP noted that a major reordering of the education system in Liberia cannot be accomplished just with consultations over a brief period and with controversies brewing among key stakeholders, such as civil society groups and the country’s teachers. “If a fundamental change is to be accomplished that will improve education in Liberia, that must be done with the cooperation, coordination and acceptance of stakeholders.
The ALP indicated that it was unfortunate that the Liberian Government appears to be in a hurry and that it may not have considered the full repercussions of the change it is proposing. According to the Party, the hasty move by the government was also worrisome, as for-profit motives in Liberia have usually been characterized by self-interests, ending up disastrously in the country’s history and recent past.
“In the last ten years of our democratic dispensation, concession agreements that have been hastily concluded have not adhered to the laws of the country and consequently not achieved the desired results of significant employment, improvements in livelihoods or brought about shared prosperity and sustainable development. We cannot afford to have the same results with the rights to education, which is fundamental in achieving a prosperous, orderly and democratic society,” the ALP said.
A Memorandum of Understanding or MOU, was reportedly signed between the Liberian Government and Bridge International Academies – a Silicon Valley for-profit corporation, to begin a pilot project called “Partnership Schools for Liberia”.
In an Op Ed piece, the Minister of Education, Mr. George K. Werner, said the pilot project will begin in September and would involve 120 schools – less than 3-percent of the total of all public schools across the country.
The Minister further indicated that he plans to insist on an independent evaluation of the pilot project before proceeding after the trial period. The ALP called for a halt to the plan to implement a change in the structure of education in Liberia without validation by the country’s stakeholders. The ALP expressed the belief that given the current economic status of the vast majority of the citizenry, such a change would require serious consultations with all stakeholders, urging all Liberians to add their voices to the call for a halt to the “Partnership” and to demand that the Government of Liberia heeds to the advice of informed domestic and international stakeholders.
The ALP said it considers the Partnership School for Liberia as not only being hasty, but also prematurely obligating the next regime. The National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL), through its Secretary General, Mr. Samuel Y. Johnson, recently admonished the Ministry of Education to reconsider its plan to privatize and outsource education in the country. The NTAL said little or no consultations and validation were done before a decision of this magnitude that will have profound effects on the future of Liberian education was made.
But according to the ministry, consultations were made with more than 30 (thirty) stakeholders, including a representative from the NTAL. Meanwhile, the ALP has also called on President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her administration to investigate issues developing from the John F. Kennedy Referral Hospital and bring perpetrators to book.
“Let it be clear that recent developments coming out of the JFK are of grave concern and require serious actions on the part of Madam President. The issue of JFK is no politics because it borders on the lives of our people and all of us, and such acts are not only embarrassing, but condemnable in the strongest possible terms,” the ALP noted.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by George Barpeen