Dr. Zobong Norman, president of the Bomi County Community College (BCCC), over the weekend was elected chairman of the newly organized Liberia Association of Community Colleges (LACCO) at a program held at the campus of the Nimba County Community College (NCCC) in Sanniquellie.
At the gathering were representatives of five community colleges of Lofa, Grand Gedeh, Bomi, Nimba and Grand Bassa.
The body had earlier examined a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) entered into between the Ministry of Education and the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), a political subdivision of the State of Arizona in the United States.
The MOU was signed on behalf of the Liberian Government by Vice President Joseph N. Boakai and the MCCCD by its Chancellor, Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick, on October 18, 2016.
The MOU details an exchange of knowledge and expertise pertaining to workforce development in Liberia, the exchange of best practices for the development of academic policies, provision of administrative and student services, faculty training and professional development opportunities, among others.
It will also share expertise in the industry and workforce capacity-building programs such as Workforce Training Centers, Entrepreneurial Incubators, Small Business Development Centers, and a Corporate Training College (i.e. Maricopa Skill Center, Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation, Community Entrepreneurship Center, Maricopa Corporate College).
To take advantage of the MOU, the leaders of the five community colleges decided to speak with one voice and therefore decided on a body that would represent their interests.
“That caused the formation of the LACCO,” chairman Norman told the Daily Observer yesterday in an interview in Monrovia. “We also discussed other issues including the need to upgrade our agriculture departments, technical education, and early childhood development.”
Other members elected were Dr. Yar Donlah Gonway-Gono of NIMCCO, co-chairperson; Dr. Nathaniel Gbessagee of GBCC, secretary; Dr. James N. Kollie of LCCC, treasurer; and Dr. Solomon Jallayu of the GGCC, chaplain.
Dr. Norman said the five community college presidents agreed to collaborate to work with the Maricopa County Community College District to help develop their academic and technical programs and administrative capabilities to benefit Liberians, adding that LACCO will work with the vice president’s office to move the program forward.
“All the community colleges have common challenges. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her wisdom decided to encourage the creation of community colleges.
“Until the colleges were developed, students would have to come only to Monrovia, and there are extreme challenges any prospective student faced at the time. Now, those students don’t have to come to Monrovia; and therefore, it means the colleges must work with their various communities to be able to fill in areas that pose challenges before the government can come in,” Dr. Norman said.
“We expect to upgrade our colleges to be able to offer degrees and this means that we would need professors, and how do we get them? We will need staff quarters and other amenities to entice them. Even for students, for example, that come from Gbarpolu and Cape Mount to attend at Bomi College, they will need a place to stay and therefore we are talking about dormitories so that they will have easy access to electricity and learning materials.”
Norman said they are determined to complement President Sirleaf’s vision to offer higher education opportunities to every Liberian no matter what part of the country he or she lives.
“We must show gratitude to what President Sirleaf has done for the future of education in our country,” he said.
He told the Daily Observer that two Liberian professionals, Dr. Robert G. Sherman and Dr. John Erakias Fallah, are in consultations with the MCCCD to ensure the program’s success.