As the Liberian Government embarks on making the country a middle income nation by 2030, the Governance Commission and some stakeholders are suggesting solid education and skills training for Liberians if the middle income goal is to be achieved.
At a policy dialogue conference on the theme, “Reaching the Middle Income Country Goal: the human Capacity Issues,” the Governance Commission and other stakeholders in their conclusion noted that although abundant natural and human resources exist in the country, it has remained today one of the world’s poorest economies.
Quoting statistical data, the groups pointed to the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Database, which states that Liberia was placed at 181 out of 184 economies worldwide in 2013.
According to a prepared document containing conclusive views of the stakeholders and Governance Commission, lack of effective human capital has consistently served as a major impediment to the growth of Liberia’s economy and its overall output.
In their concluding statement, the GC and its partners noted that the cluster of graduates specializing in fields not consistent with workforce requirement projections has rendered the total supply of human resources in the national labor force and its resulting output as fairly inelastic (weak).
This translates to a much lower than could be annual growth in Liberia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a result of uneven distribution of skilled and semi-skilled labor in sectors that drive aggregate demand.
“In order to reduce the fairly inelastic nature of our yearly labor supply, we must focus on the output of graduates at the upper basic, secondary and tertiary levels and ensure that they are specializing in fields and taking career paths that are most urgently needed and speak to Liberia’s present day workforce requirements,” the statement noted.
A change in this situation, the policy dialogue concluding statement says, requires a reexamination of Liberia’s education system in order to fill those current capacity gaps and produce the needed skills consistent with current national needs.
“The system must now focus on increasing workforce needs in professional, technical, skilled and semi-skilled categories that are required for nation building, and as such develop strategies that will address capacity gaps from as early as the lower basic education level,” the statement said.
In the quest for needed workforce that conforms to realities of the day, the statement noted that Liberia is fortunate and blessed with a favorably youthful population, an optimal contributor to the attainment of national goal (s) if skilled and developed properly.
Emphasis on education in Liberia nowadays highlights mostly Science and Technology. But it has been observed over time that many Liberian students studying at universities, including the state-owned University of Liberia, prioritize Business and Liberal Arts colleges rather than Science.
Statistics gathered from the University of Liberia about enrollment in the Science and Technology College and College of Agriculture show that from 2009 to 2013 a total of 619 enrolled in the Agriculture College, 345 studying General Agriculture, 69 in Agronomy and 196 in General Forestry while only 5 were enrolled in Wood Technology.
In the Science and Technology College 916 enrolled in Science, 656 in Biology, Chemistry accounted for 50, Mathematics 62, Zoology 38, Physics 17 and Engineering (Civil, Electrical and Mining) 170.
The dialogue was moderated by Dr. Toga Mcintosh, Vice President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission.
Panelists included the Ministers of Education, Labor, Gender Children and Social Protection, Finance and Development Planning, the president of the Association of Liberian Universities and the Chairman of the National Commission on Higher Education.