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Free tuition backfires @ Senate

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It appears Senators on Capitol Hill are unhappy with President George Weah’s decision declaring free education for state run public tertiary schools here describing it as hasty.

A vast majority of them did not hold back on their disgust over the manner in which President Weah made the announcement in October 2018, frowning on the policy.

During a Senate debate last week on the president’s free tuition policy, senators said the president’s decision was hasty.

The Senate Committee on Education and Public Administration chaired by RiverCess County Senator Dallas Gueh presented a report to the full plenary of the Senate, noting that there was no consultation on the introduction of such policy statement, leaving state – run University of Liberia to run in deficit.

In an initial debate on the matter, some Senators mentioned that the president was ill – advised on the introduction of the free tuition program without taking into consideration the source of revenue to fund the free tuition program.

Senators Varney Sherman of Grand Cape Mount County, Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County, and Daniel Naatehn of Gbarpolu County argued that special criteria needs to be set up, acquainting beneficiaries of the free tuition program to contribute their quota upon completion of their university studies.

“We can’t give the students free education and they leave Liberia and serve different countries or they go by themselves. If they will be educated free, there should be measures in place for those students to serve the country in the various counties for a year or two,” Sen. Sherman notes.

Senator Jonathan Kaipay of Grand Bassa County argues that it is not all the students at the state – run universities that are jobless or cannot afford to pay school fees.

He suggests that the free tuition program should benefit students that can’t afford to pay tuition.

Meanwhile, Senator Henrique Tokpa of Bong County wants authorities at the Association of Tertiary Institutions invited to provide expert opinion on the matter.

However, plenary has mandated the Senate’s Committee on Education and Public Administration to schedule a meeting with the Minister of Finance and Development Planning to give reason for the free tuition and how they intend to generate the funds.

In October 2018, President Weah made a pronouncement of tuition free education at all government – run universities and colleges in Liberia.By Ethel A. Tweh –Edited by Winston W. Parley

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