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Weah declares free university education

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President George Manneh Weah has declared free tuition for all students at the state – run University of Liberia (UL) and all other public universities in Liberia.“I therefore declare free tuition for all university students at the University of Liberia as well as all other public universities in Liberia,” he said Wednesday, 24 October at UL’s Capitol Hill Campus amid interruptions from cheering students celebrating the decision.

In recognition of “a link between a well – educated citizenry and economic growth,” President Weah says his government has decided to invest in human capital so as to achieve sustained economic growth.With this latest declaration, President Weah now says there should be no reason to drop out of school for financial constraint.

As Visitor to UL, President Weah says it is incumbent upon him to use his good office as President of the Republic of Liberia to ensure that UL is well – established, adequately funded through budgetary support from government and properly managed by competent administrators.

Over the years, President Weah says for a student body of closed to 40,000, he has observed that UL students have suffered delayed registration processes in long queues, lack of systems to effectively and efficiently manage students as well as UL Administration and systems in general.

He says registration processes have ended in riots, demonstrations and conflicts on the campuses of UL.In the wake of the new measures announced, President Weah tells the student population at UL that he does not want to see vibration “because some vibration can be military vibration or immigration vibration.”

He pleads with student leaders to always negotiate when issues arise, saying he personally felt dissatisfied when he heard that there was fee increase on campus.President Weah says he was shocked when UL Vice President for Relations Norris Tweah explained that out of 20,000 students that go through registration process, only 12,000 would pay their fees due to lack of money while others depend on student aid.

Instead of hiring foreign experts, he says Liberian students should not limit themselves because the country needs its own engineers, pilots, mechanics and other technicians, saying more investments must be made in all of these areas to make Liberia a better place.President Weah’s visit on UL Capitol Hill Campus was greeted with mixed reaction-one group of students welcomes the president’s visit while another protested against him.

Protesters from Student Unification Party (SUP) had dissent against the closure of classes throughout Wednesday due to a pronouncement expected from the Visitor, President Weah.“Even if he is coming to announce free education, it still does not justify the shutting down of normal academic activities. It only suggests that an ‘all – powerful’ President is exalting himself above the ultimate interest of almost 20,000 students that should be learning amidst the high rate of illiteracy, poverty, and disease in Liberia,” SUP says.

It adds that henceforth, it will stand up against “any newborn fascist in camouflage.”They distributed leaflets containing their dissent while chanting militant slogans against the UL Visitor, President Weah, at the same time supporters of the President hailed him and jubilated on the other side.

University of Liberia Students Union (ULSU) president Maiwo Flomo pleads with President Weah to urge the UL Administration to consider consulting students before taking decisions that affect the students, especially when it comes to increase in fees.

He applauds the President for some of the interventions made so far, but he brings to the attention of the president and UL Administration that the University is faced with consistent sanitation problems, internet facility, and other necessities.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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