EHELD Delegation Meets President Sirleaf

Friday, 15th April 2011
President Sirleaf and members of EHELD delegation at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia.
President Sirleaf and members of EHELD delegation at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia.
Photo Credit: Ousman Diallo/Executive Mansion

Monrovia, Liberia - A 17-member delegation representing prominent universities and other institutions in the United States on Thursday paid a courtesy call on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia. The Consortium, under the umbrella of the Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development (EHELD), is in the country to begin discussions with officials of the University of Liberia and Cuttington University College in Suakoko, Bong County, for the development of a Center of Excellence in Engineering at UL and a Center of Excellence in Agriculture at Cuttington.

A US$18 million USAID-EHELD Award is being provided to Research Triangle International (RTI), Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, North Carolina State, and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology for the development of the Centers in Liberia.

While in the country, the delegation will prepare a five-year strategic plan for EHELD, as well as a one-year project work plan.

An Executive Mansion release says President Johnson Sirleaf welcomed the delegation to Liberia and lauded the initiative to invest in the country’s education sector. The President said that despite the many challenges facing the country, the Government was keen on investing in its human resources capacity through programs that would strengthen the education sector.   The President assured the team that Government would work with its collaborating partners in providing the necessary support to ensure the success of the project.

Members of the delegation spoke of the added value such a program would bring to the overall national development agenda of Liberia, predicting that 80 percent of the graduates would be prepared and ready for the job market upon completion of the program.  “We want to maximize the number of people into the program, to increase the number of graduating students who can add value to the economy,” the head of the delegation, Professor David Hall, said.

Professor Hall, an engineering education specialist, is a former Dean of Engineering. Other members of the delegation include: Professor Armstrong Donkoh, EHELD Agriculture Education Advisor, a former Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Science & Technology, Kumasi, Ghana; Mr. Andrew Baird, RTI Senior Economic Specialist & Entrepreneurship Education Specialist; and Ms. Nicole Jacobs, RTI Project Administration Manager for EHELD, among others.

Through the project, two Centers of Excellence will be created – in agriculture at Cuttington University College, and in engineering at the University of Liberia – that will serve as models in Liberian higher education, equipping students with the knowledge and skills to meet current and future workforce requirements in the private, public and non-governmental organization sectors.

Visiting faculty from leading U.S. and African universities will help revise and re-design curricula and build the capacity of Liberian faculty through mentoring, research opportunities and graduate training.  The Centers will also offer improved facilities, information and communication technology, and career services to create an inviting and professional learning environment.

The Presidents of the University of Liberia and Cuttington University College also participated in Thursday’s discussions.