COTAE Launches Policy Dialogue

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Several education stakeholders as well as other public servants and members of the civil society, including representatives of the media, on April 21 exchanged views at a resort in Monrovia on the need to revamp the educational system of Liberia.

The ceremony marked the Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education’s (COTAE) formal launch of a policy dialogue on the education sector under a project titled: “Education and You: Following the Money for Greater Transparency and Quality.”

Held under the theme, “Importance of Monitoring and Fiscal Accountability for Quality Education,” the policy dialogue included presentations on two key topics- Monitoring Education for Improved Outcomes and Importance of Effective Budgeting and Fiscal Accountability in Education.

 The launch of the project also highlighted the paradigm shift in the country’s education system, in which    COTAE expressed willingness to correct the wrongs.
 The Project Coordinator of the Global Partnership for Basic Education Program (GPEBEP) at the Ministry of Education (MOE), David Baysah, who deliberated on Monitoring Education for Improved Outcomes, stressed that learning outcomes and  environments as well as teachers and teaching practices or school administrators be monitored to match the level of improvements and standards the nation's educational system needs.
  He named five dimensions of quality education (borrowed from UNICEF’s definition), which are learners, environments, content, processes and outcomes.
 According to him, Liberia's standard of education has been discussed in many circles and at the same time is being exacerbated by the declining results of exams administered annually by West African Examination Council (WAEC), mass failure in the University of Liberia’s entrance exams and the difficult conditions under which teaching and learning take place in most Liberian schools.

Baysah recalled how the Bureau of Education was established to centralize the administration and supervision of all schools with Julius C. Stevens as the first General Superintendent of Education. He was instrumental in setting standards for teachers (by annual examination) and initiating a periodic census of school age children to ascertain continuing education needs.

Baysah said the steps for the establishment of a national education system were the identification of what Liberian Education means, the first enactment of that philosophy in the national curriculum, the “certification” of its teaching cadre, and the assessment of the twin goals of this early system being access and opportunity.

He added that monitoring is used to determine how well a program is carried out at different levels and at what cost, adding, “It tracks changes that occur over time in terms of inputs, production, and use of service.

In Particular, a monitoring system provides information on progress towards the achievement of stated objectives.
Meanwhile, Baysah called for the setting up of a school supervision and inspection bureau, the inclusion of external and internal monitors and the inclusion of teaching supervisors as the means to enhance the sector.

The Director General of Internal Audit Agency, Paul Collins, spoke on the Importance of Effective Budgeting and Fiscal Accountability in Education.

 He believes that fiscal accountability suggests the existence of a fiduciary responsibility that custodians of public funds have to the government and people of a nation.

Collins indicated that another responsibility implies that value is expected for the money given into trust to the custodians, thus leading people to the concept of the value of money.
Stressing the relevance of fiscal accountability in the education sector, Collins named efficiency, effectiveness and economy as components that accommodate the process which COTAE is undertaking through the Open Society Initiative For West Africa (OSIWA) sponsored project.

“In order to determine if we are achieving value for money in the education sector, we need to be able to derive measures that are objective, transparent and understandable. The accountability requirements in our laws/policies must be followed. This means regular financial reports that are independently verified must be produced regularly,” the Internal Audit Agency Director General noted.

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