Liberian students graduating from high schools and universities have been described as ‘worthless’. The Minister of Education George Werner, says the number of students graduating “is so large and so inadequately prepared” to contribute to the economy.
“Right now, the number of children graduating either from high school or from the universities is so large and so inadequately prepared – they are just in the economy but they cannot do,” Mr. Werner said Monday, 26 October at the dedication of Coca-Cola’s science and technology school.
Minister Werner however expressed confidence that “if used well,” school like the newly dedicated Alexander B. Cummings Model Science and Technology School in Duport Road, Paynesville that is built with the purpose of combining reading and writing with technical skills would prepare students for the needs of Liberia’s economy.
He underscored the necessity for public-private partnership with government and improvement in terms of quality of education as the ministry creates access. “We need a different kind of school from the one you and I attended; we need a kind of school that prepares our children for the needs of our economy,” he suggested.
Werner says right now “as we speak,” there are at least 1.5 million children in school, and the gender gap in terms of number of girls and boys is just about equal at the level of early childhood education. The minister said majority of Liberia’s children are in school, but disclosed that over 300,000 of them are currently out of school.
He acknowledged that education is a public good in which the government is the duty bearer, but stressed that the government alone cannot do it. Before cutting ribbons to the facility yesterday, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleafemphasized the fundamental aspect to any growth – in business or in any aspect of the society is education and skills.
In appreciating Coca-Cola for the project, President Sirleaf told the company that the creation of value in the society starts at the school with teachers, supervisors and administrators, while stressing that if education and skills are lacking, one cannot grow the capacity to be able to manage the business, create the high level job for Liberians which everybody wants.
Mrs. Sirleaf recalled her earlier comment made at the dedication of a US$5m Coca-Cola plant, urging Liberians that for business to expand, an environment of peace, stability and partnership must be created. But she says this also involves government working with business entities, civil society and media so that everyone feels that they do have one that is conducive and something that people know that they have confidence in for the growth of businesses.
Montserrado County District 4 Representative, Henry Fahnbulleh, described the school as a blessing to his district, on grounds that the project could have gone anywhere else. Paynesville City Acting Mayor, Madam Cyvette Gibson, said what had been accomplished was nothing short of amazing, as science and technology has become increasingly significant on the globe.
Meanwhile, Education boss Werner is maintaining a conspicuous silence on the recent graduation of 12th graders at Ricks Institute in Virginia, outside Monrovia despite strict warning from the government to school administrators not to graduate 12th graders, pending the WAEC exams next year.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Jonathan Browne