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Cuttington University and National development Amid Critical Challenges

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Saturday, June 29, 2013 occasioned another influx of 540 Liberians into the job market in the country. Though a little percentage of these Liberians may already have a place, others might be seeking employment either in the public sector or private sector with little or high hopes, while some may not even be absorbed into the job market.

And so graduating from university-whether with high or low honor is one thing, while finding a job is quite another considering the way(s) things are done in terms of employment in Liberia at the moment. Be that the foregoing may be, the best thing ever in one’s life is to build his or her academic capacity for the challenges in the Liberian society.

That’s just what Cuttington University in Suacoco, Bong County in Central Liberia did when it graduated 540 Liberians on Saturday, June 29, 2013 in various academic disciplines. Even though with all of what Cuttington has passed onto these new academic products it may not be overly confident that those walking out of its walls will make practical that which they’ve acquired for the past four years to the best of their ability, in terms of discharging the academic and moral virtues, the institution, relatives and sponsors can only hope and continuously pray for the best as these graduates make their presence felt one way or the other in the Liberian society.

Being cognizant of the performance of students in past, President Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa, at the 52nd Commencement Convocation on the main campus of the institution, emphasized the urgent need to upgrade the academic standards of high school graduates across the country  to cope with university education in adequate preparation for future societal responsibilities. Thriving on such path would only enable Liberian students walking out of high school to face the major challenges of university education.

One may wholeheartedly be in agreement with dr. Tokpa that universities in the country continue to be confronted with a number of challenges with students leaving high schools for universities due to inadequate preparations to take on academic tasks.

Moreover, in the midst of these challenges, it is no secret that the behavior of students was one of the major challenges experienced during the last academic year. Such public admission by the Cuttington University administration may just be strange of a higher institution of learning, which may want all of the good things said about itself and not the bad ones.

Further compounding the situation as it relates to the foregoing is the issue of teachers’ recruitment and retention as announced by the University’s President. More than twenty lecturers at the university reportedly terminated their contracts with the institution because of the low salaries the university pays- the most threatening situation faced by the university.

At the moment, members of the faculty association, according to Dr. Tokpa, have even warned that if remunerations were not increased and work load reduced, they would quit despite the provision of some basic social services by the administration to faculty members and staffs of the institution which continues to be among the least paid in the country.

The delay by scholarship donors in making payment on time is one of the major contributing constraints the university has ever and continuously faced. Such funds, to the tone of about US$600,000.00, usually buttresses others to make the university’s operations-pipe-borne running water, regular electricity, as well as meals, more effective and efficient. But in the absence of such funds, it becomes very difficult of the university’s administration to the ignorance and dissatisfaction of the students.

With these and many more challenges confronting Cuttington, the immediate intervention of the Liberian government, through the Liberian Legislature cannot be over-emphasized.  Politics must stay out of the situation, while reasoning must take its course. The Honorable Liberian, with gavel in hands, must look at Cuttington University from the perspective of its achievements and consistency not only in its academic regularity, but its impact on human resource and national development in the past, now and the future.

At the core of this perspective is the issue of a tremendous increase in its subsidy by members of the House of Representatives and Liberian Senate-some of whom are either  graduates, students, former students or even faculty members of the institution. As their contributions to the growth, development and sustenance of the university, the obligation is now theirs to constructive engage other members of the Honorable Legislature to increase the subsidy of the university.

With the rapid development of Cuttington University under the enviable Presidency of Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa, including its elevation to the graduate school level, as well as the enabling academic atmosphere and the newly constructed school of health sciences on the university’s main campus  to be shortly inaugurated, and soon-to-be pavement of the entire main campus of the university, it is important for the Honorable men and women to see reason in helping the university further develop to their own credit. In this process, the Bong Legislative Caucus can also be at the fore front.

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