Editorial: Minister Ansu Sonii’s US$3 billion request is lip service
US$3 billion recently requested by the minister of education D. Ansu Sonii, to put Liberia’s education system on par with international standards is just not realistic, but mere lip service to such an important sector. The amount being requested by the minister is over three hundred times the country’s budget, which is unattainable in this century and perhaps century to come.
It, therefore, presupposes that Liberia may not even get on par with countries in the subregion lest to talk of global standards
What minister Sonii is not saying or failed to acknowledge is lack of political will by government to improve education in Liberia. All that is being said about tuition-freed public universities, payment of WASSCE fees, and free public schools are cosmetic. The crust of the challenges in the sector are still glaring and enormous.
We need a complete overhaul of the education curriculum from primary to tertiary level with vigorous move towards staff development and competence. As it is presently, all that we have are round pegs in square holes.
The education minister is not telling Liberians what he is doing with money being allotted for education in the national budget, when public schools across the country are dilapidated, leaving poor students to learn in an unconducive environment with poor-quality lesson presentation due to unqualified staff.
This year, US$50 million has been allotted in the national budget for education. What will this amount be expended on when thousands of supposedly teachers in public schools are not on payroll, but are yet expected to remain professional?
Amid the poor state of the education system, universities and colleges are springing up everywhere under the watch of the ministry of education. Attempt by the Commission on Higher Education recently to apply the standard or demand qualifications require for those serving as presidents and vice presidents of universities in the country was aborted by minister Sonii. The ministry does not need US$3 billion to enforce this simple policy.
How do we improve performance of students, particularly 12th graders writing the WASSCE when the Head of WAEC Liberia Dale Gbotoe is lamenting on dismal performance in the sciences that should be crucial area of concentration in our schools? What plans are there to tailor the curriculum towards WASSCE and prepare teachers to present lessons that would address this deficiency?
Minister Sonii should be talking about ways in addressing pressing challenges confronting the sector than requesting money that he has no plan for. Instead, it is political will that is lacking.
It did not take Ghana quarter of a billion to have its student pass the recent WASSCE with the highest overall score in the entire subregion. This enviable achievement was as the result of dedication, sincerity, and love for country.
Unless we Liberians stop paying lip service to critical areas such as education, health and security, among others, we are not going anywhere as a nation.