American Billionaire, George Soros Boost Liberia's Education Initiative

Friday, 4th May 2007

Monrovia, Liberia - American billionarie George Soros has pledged five-million United States dollars to support the education iniatives of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Making the announcement, Mr. Soros said he was contributing to the initiative to fill in a funding gap under the country’s five-year education plan being spearheaded by UNICEF.

Under the plan, $20-million United States dollars is being provided by donors toward the first five years of Liberia’s educational programs. Against a $10-million dollar gap still needed for the successful implementation of the program, Mr. Soros said he was pledging $5-million United States dollars to fill in the gap, provided the official donors commit to covering the rest of a five-year funding program based on the assessment of existing needs.

According to an Executive mansion press release, Mr. Soros made the commitment in Brussels, when he delivered a speech to raise funds for the Roma Education Fund which he supports.

The American billionaire and humanitarian said he was confident that his Foundation, OSIWA, would work to ensure that all groups kept thier pledges and help see that the program is successful.

“If you unbundled the global program of Education for all, and look at the individual countries, I know of many private partners who would be eager to participate and make a meaningful contribution,” the American billionaire challenged the participants.

Mr. Soros, who was in Liberia in Februray as guest of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, spoke of the daunting challenges required to invest
in education. The international funding gap for expanding primary education to all, Mr. Soros noted, has reached US7-billion dollars a year, and will grow as enrollment increases.

He made particular mention of Liberia, which he pointed out, needs all the support to develop public-private partnerships that seek to help the President achieve Liberia’s plan for the countries children. Liberia’s needs, Mr. Soros informed the donors are particularly acute as a post-conflict state, and the country’s own limited budgetary ability to meet those needs.

By working to support President Sirleaf’s plan, the billionaire noted, “we will not be another donor to attend to, but a partner helping them achieve the plan that they have agreed on and which only they can ultimately suceed in implementing.”