President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says in order to get to a target of 50 students per teacher, government needs to have 23,000 teachers in the next few years, which will see an increase from a current population of 16,000 teachers here.
Speaking at the commencement of a two-day education sector stakeholder conference at the Monrovia City Hall Thursday, 28 April President Sirleafstressed that the highest impact intervention through the education system is to improve the quality of teaching.
Mrs. Sirleaf says government continues to make improvement in the payment for teachers, but admitted that the education budget still remains far below what is necessary to be able to pay that which will continue to attract quality to Liberian schools.
She therefore suggested that such issue be discussed in the two-day conference, having noted that problems still remain in the education sector despite progress that has been made. She argued that her government tries to emphasize the education of girls and has abolished the payment of school fees for basic education in all public schools.
So far, she says government has increased access and records 1.5 million students enrolment, out of which 800,000 are boys, while 725,000 are girls. On the other hand, she observes that the number of schools have increased from 4,500 to about 5,000 schools, with 500 of them being public schools.
Mrs. Sirleaf says the government’s target is to achieve sustainable development goal number four to allocate limited resources to ensure that as many Liberian children as possible get quality education. In support of such plan, the Sirleaf administration says it is keen to making small scale radical interventions while trying to fix the whole system, and to continue to make and build upon the progress.
The President sees the partnership schools as pallets to improve or accelerate Liberia’s learning outcomes, as she expresses hope that if partnership works, government can expand the successful modules while it continues to work in parallel in carrying out the system and payingteachers.
She expressed government’s strong commitment to improve education in the country, realizing that educating each generation of children is the only way Liberia can govern and manage its resources effectively.
Stakeholders at the conference are expected to share ideas about education financing and other issues, including subsidy to schools, accreditation of schools to share strategies and support to thesector.
The Education Ministry says the roundtable will lead to a national vision for education from early childhood, secondary, vocational, technical, inclusive, professional training and tertiary education. Minister George Werner said earlier at the conference yesterday that government doesn’t want to just restore what was in the 70s, but it wants something new to accelerate learning outcome for Liberian children.
He recalled that before the war in Liberia, West African teachers from Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, among others, taught in Liberian schools, particularly for the sciences. He says there is a need for radical education reform, to try new things especially for a country like Liberia that used to have first class education and attracted high schools and university studentsfrom other countries.
By Winston W. Parley