By Kruah Thompson
The National Orator for Liberia’s 176th National Flag Day celebration, Wantoe Teah Wantoe, is calling on the Liberian government to improve the nation’s education system by addressing shortage of students in classrooms and expanding learning opportunities across Liberia.
Mr. Wantoe also stresses a simultaneous need to incorporate modern technology in schools to enrich teaching and learning experience and to prioritize training and development of teachers, who can effectively guide students toward excellence via Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics or STEM education.
Liberia celebrated its 176th National Flag Day on Thursday, August 24, 2023, at the Centennial Pavilion in Monrovia. The national emblem with colors Red, White, and Blue was designed on August 24, 1847, by a group of ex-slaves headed by Suzanna Lewis. The Liberian flag contains eleven strips, including six red and five white with a white star in a blue field in the upper left corner.
According to the Flag Day orator, another disconcerting facet of the Liberian society involves the issue of affordability when it comes to accessing education.
Reflecting on his own educational path after high school, Mr. Wantoe narrates that following completion of secondary education, he faced a compulsory two-and-a-half-year break due to his father’s inability to pay his entry fees to the University of Liberia.
He adds that for this reason, furthering his education would have remained financially unfeasible, regardless of whether he had chosen a state-run or private university.
He reveals that new global index data reveals that over half (54%) of the adult population in Africa is deeply concerned about paying their children’s school fees, with 29% citing school fees as a financial worry that impacts medical expenses, retirement provisions, and monthly bills.
However, he hails the Liberian government’s free tuition policy for all government-run colleges and universities in the country, which he notes, has made education more accessible for over 200,000 students across various state-run universities.
He also applauds the government for paying West African Senior School Certificate Examination or WASSCE fees for 12th graders.
While appreciating the progress made, he stresses that accountability must become cornerstone of the educational system, suggesting a need for government to establish a framework to regularly monitor progress of all stakeholders in the educational system.
He reiterates that government should address student shortages in classrooms by providing more opportunities for enrolment and investing in modern technology to enhance teaching and learning.
Meanwhile, the 176th Flag Day Orator is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy at the University of Oxford, Pembroke College, in collaboration with the Blavatnik School of Government.
He has dedicated himself to advocating for women and children’s rights, positioning him as a prominent advocate for global sustainability and youth development not only in Liberia but across Africa.
Mr. Wantoe presently serves as a Steering Member on the United Nations Department of Global Communication Youth Steering Committee and the AFS Youth Assembly Advisory Council, respectively. Editing by Jonathan Browne