President George Manneh Weah is urging members of the 54th Legislature to ratify his tuition-freed education program announced late last year for undergraduates in all public Universities and colleges across the country.
President Weah has come under increased criticism here since he announced the policy with pundits wondering where would the government source funding to support such ambitious program outside the national budget, given the current dismal state of the economy.
However, delivering his 2nd Annual Message on Monday, 28 January before members of the 54th Legislature sitting in joint session in the Rotunda of the Capitol, the President reiterates his government’s commitment to improving the educational sector, and reports that in his first year in office, government paid WASSCE fees for 33,937 Twelfth Graders at the cost of US$2.3 million and 41.5 million Liberian Dollars for 17,675 Ninth Graders, respectively across the country.
This was in addition to 100 scholarships awarded to the best performing students from the 2017 West African Senior School Certificate Examinations, according to President Weah.
He says immediately after his ascendency, the government thru the Ministry of Education embarked on a nationwide tour to assess the huge challenges facing the nation’s educational system, which was followed by a national education conference where stakeholders dialogued on the way forward.He discloses that out of a total 3,754 public school teachers on supplementary payroll, government has regularized the status of 1100 teachers.
President Weah continues that during the period under review, the government received strong support from various partners, including US$25 million from the World Bank to provide Science laboratories in public schools, US$11.1 million from Global Partnership for educational programs in six counties, and EU’s 20million Euros for technical and vocational education, respectively, among others.
With support from the United States Agency for International Development or USAID, he adds that US$27 million was invested in Read Liberia, a special reading program in primary schools and US$33.9 million for Accelerated Quality Education program, respectively.
The President also mentions 100 Liberians currently benefiting foreign scholarships both in Morocco and China, respectively, and stresses that the government’s Pro Poor Agenda for Propensity and Development is geared at lifting Liberians from poverty.