There may have been a sign of relief when the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of education, announced a reduction by fifty-percent in tuition fees in private schools throughout Liberia. But what appeared worrisome later was another announcement that the Catholic and Lutheran School systems could only afford to reduce tuition fees by twenty-percent.
These decisions followed a meeting between private school authorities and officials of the Ministry of Education recently in Monrovia amidst public outcry against the unceremonious inflation in fees. Government’s commitment to increasing subsidies to private may have propelled the level of progress, even though some of us are yet to believe in the sincerity of those who run private and church schools.
Church and private school owners and administrators continue to cite salary increment and benefits for their instructional staff as the primary reason for the abrupt action to inflate fees. Such decision was not with the acquiescence of their respective Parent Teachers Associations with whom they should have met and discussed as they’ve always done on other decisions.
Whether or not teachers and other staff of church and private will experience increments and benefits in consonance with those of their counterparts in public schools is something for all of us to watch.
It is only hoped that private school owners and administrators will adhere to whatever agreement reached with the Ministry of Education. Expectations are that teachers and other church and private school staff on whose behalf the decision was taken to inflate school fees will be sincere enough to say whether or not their salaries have been increased, and that their employers are giving them the benefits promised them.
The decision by the Government of Liberia to intervene in the evolving difficulties in private learning institutions is an endeavor that must attract gratitude from all sectors of the Liberian society, even though some may harbor the belief that the government is somehow under obligation to do so, but not to the extent to which the government is now over-stretching just to meet the educational needs of the young people.
The government’s commitment is not only to private primary and secondary schools across the country, but also universities. Information is that the Liberian Legislature is desirous of increasing the subsidy provided by the government to the Cuttiongton University in Suacoco, Bong County in Central Liberia to an appreciable amount. If the foregoing is something to consider, the honorable Legislators must be hailed.
Such decision will only corroborate the commitment of Cuttington University to reducing tuition fees, improve the welfare of its professors and other instructional staff in terms of salaries, benefits and housing, as well as extending the hours of electricity and ensuring its water supply through fuel purchase from Monrovia for its generators. These are promises earlier made by the university.
And if it is true that the Liberian Legislature has indeed increased government subsidy to Cuttington, the honorable men and women should also hold the authorities of the university to such commitment. It is no secret that tuition fees at Cuttington in recent times high very high, and conscientiously understanding this, they though to persuade the Legislators to add onto whatever the government initially provided. That was a justifiable ‘chess game’.
But again, the extent to which Cuttington intends to reduce its fees needs to be publicly announced as was done recently with its commitment. Whether tuition fees will be reduced by 50-percent or 25-percent when the increment is confirmed, the university must also issue a public statement.
If and only if the Liberian Government is providing subsidies to private universities such as AME University, Zion University, , Stella Marie University, there must also be public commitment.
Members of the Liberian Legislature must ensure that these universities live up to their commitments. This is to foster and make practical the concept of reciprocity in the partnership between the government and private institutions of higher learning in the country.