“Unity Party Committed to Education and Empowerment of Citizens,” Vice President Assures

Monday, 12th July 2010
Monrovia, Liberia - Liberian Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Sr., says the Unity Party-led Government is committed to the education and empowerment of its citizens.

He said education is in fact a key aspect of Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, otherwise known as the “Lift Liberia” initiative.

Vice President Boakai gave the assurance at the week-end during the graduation ceremony of the second Pre-Service “C” Certificate Trainees held at Zorzor Rural Teacher Training Institute (ZRTTI) in Lofa County.

About 258 graduates from Nimba, Bong, Lofa and Rivercess Counties were awarded certificates and accredited after completing the one year training program.

He emphasized that it is in line with its firm conviction that education is the cornerstone of the success of any nation that government has put education at the top of its agenda, as evidenced by the construction of scores of schools, the refurbishing of the KRTTI, BWI, ZRTTI and other educational institutions and the upgrading of the Williams V.S. Tubman College of Technology in Harper, Maryland County to a full degree granting institution.

“In all our travels and engagements with the international community, we actively seek support  to upgrade our learning institutions which have over  the past two decades experienced serious decline,” Vice President Boakai said.

He said the graduation ceremony is a significant boost to government’s effort to improve the quality of instruction in primary schools, even though, he noted, the acute need for qualified teachers is still overwhelming.

“I promise you today that the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf- led Government will not rest until it has put the Liberian educational system  to pre-war standards and on par with those in other countries of the world,” the Liberian Vice President said.

He challenged the graduates to exhibit high standards of professionalism in the execution of their duties.

In his keynote address, Dr. Michael P. Slawon, Director-General of the National Commission on Higher  Education at the Ministry of Education,  expressed concern about the serious shortage of good and qualified teachers in the Liberian school system, disclosing that of the 37,795 teachers in the Liberian school system, 20,267 are untrained and unqualified.

He attributed the shortage of trained teachers to the limited training opportunities available to people desiring to enter the profession, lack of incentives to attract qualified people into the teaching profession, and the lack of political will on the part of past governments to make the teaching profession attractive.

Dr. Slawon also attributed the declining standards of the nation’s educational system to use of the teaching profession as a stepping stone by unqualified high school graduates and high school drop-outs seeking economic empowerment.

“Contrary to the past when education was considered the least area of employment in our country, I am proud to say that today the situation is being improved. Today political leaders recognize that education is very crucial to our social, political and economic development as a nation,” Dr. Slawon said.

He said in recognition of the fact that education can only receive the required boost if it is maintained in the mainstream of Government’s development agenda, the Unity party-led Government has made education one of its priority areas of concern.

“Education is now considered as a public good, the key element in achieving a responsible, democratically minded citizenry, the cornerstone for sustainable development,” Dr. Slawon observed.

He challenged the graduates and teachers across the country to desist from acts like teacher-student sexual relationship, giving of make-up among others, which in the past plunged the Liberian educational system in the “dark days”.

In remarks, Education Minister Othello Gongar who also graced the graduation ceremony assured that government was determined to reduce the number of unqualified teachers and elevate educational standards to ensure sustainable development of the country.