Outgoing University of Liberia (UL) President Dr. Emmett A. Dennis says improving the country’s education to meet the desired goal of Liberians depends on “national priority and political will.”
Dr. Dennis made the statement over the weekend when he addressed the second graduating class of the Nimba County Community College (NCCC) in Sanniquellie, the county’s political capital. During the convocation, the president of the college, Dr. Yar Donlah Gonway-Gono, and others requested that the college be given a four-year degree granting status.
In response to that request, Dr. Dennis called for the improvement in facilities such as the library, laboratory, Information Technology, and most importantly, capacity-building of the faculty staff.
He said building the capacity of the teaching staff is the most indispensable endeavor for a college or university which those in charge need to consider in their respective academic programs.
“Young faculty members should be encouraged and supported to pursue Master’s and Doctorate degrees to give the colleges and universities in Liberia the best status,” Dr. Dennis told the gathering.
He added, “Again, all these depend on national priority and political will. When it was a national priority to establish the NCCC, the Tubman University, we abided by the decision. Therefore, political will and national priority will allow the NCCC to become a full-fledge Bachelor degree granting tertiary institution.”
Dr. Dennis said the UL and the NCCC are collaborating in the subject areas of geology and mining, considering financial management, and allowing high achieving students to enroll at UL during their last year at the NCCC.
At the UL, Dr. Dennis said the students will be able to earn both the Associate of Art (AA) and Bachelor degrees.
He said the arrangement also goes as far as improving the NCCC curriculum so that students from there will be transferred to UL on the basis of certain number of credits.
In her statement earlier, Dr. Gono outlined achievements the institution has made since it was established in 2010, stating, “We have since that time built a library, computer laboratory and soil science laboratory.”
Additionally, she said the NCCC has also constructed an Organic Compost Processing Center, modern cafeteria, a welcome gate, concrete billboard, accreditation of the Nursing and Laboratory Technology program, which now attracts a huge student enrollment and retention of employees.
She said in 2015, the NCCC graduated its first 167 students in 12 disciplines, while the second graduation produced 154 students.
“These achievements,” Dr. Gono said, “were done amid inadequate funding and budgetary support, scarce resources and low salaries for the instructors and the support staff.”
The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of NCCC, Dr. Fredrick Norkeh, also said the Board is, “vigorously planning to ensure that the college becomes a full-fledge Bachelor degree granting institution,” a statement that was accompanied by loud applause from the audience.
Norkeh said for an institution to put out a huge number of graduates matters not, but to obtain job matters the most. He urged policymakers to create the environment that will allow those graduating from colleges and universities to get jobs.
Meanwhile, the NCCC now offers Geology and Mining, Forestry and Natural Resource Management, General Agriculture, National Diploma in Agriculture, Nursing and Laboratory Technology, Information Technology, Primary and Secondary Education, Criminal Justice, Gender and Development Studies (non-degree), Business and Public Administration, Management, Economics and Accounting, and some vocational studies including Plumbing, Electricity and Hospitality.