Liberia’s messy education system, especially at the tertiary level with specific reference to the University of Liberia, is on the verge of getting a boost from Cheryl Dozier, the president of Savannah State University (SSU), Georgia, U.S.A. Ms Dozier is offering to form a partnership with the University of Liberia.
UL is the nation’s premier institution of learning, but the level of academic activities at the institution have been far from encouraging since the 14 year civil crisis ended. The institution has recently been beleaguered by chaotic activities between students, faculty, and staff on one side and the administration on another.
According to Ms. Dozier, when the partnership is established, the UL will regain its pre-war status when it competed with world-class universities.
The SSU president made the offer on Tuesday, March 4, during a courtesy call to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at her Foreign Ministry Office. She said the offer is in support of President Sirleaf’s courage to see a revamped education sector; and her institution stands ready to support the cause.
Prior to the Liberian crisis, according to sources, the University of Liberia was an academic hub where some of the continent’s most renowned leaders and diplomats were schooled. This is no longer the case as the institution has been downgraded to a business center where instructors extort money from students for grades.
The partnership, according to this paper’s sources, would give critical consideration to technical areas such as Marine Engineering, Social Work, and the Criminal Justice System. This joint venture between the two schools could help elevate the National Police Training Academy to an Associate Degree-granting institution; a plan that has already been initiated between UL and the Liberia National Police.
Madam Dozier said her institution is willing to provide textbooks and enter into a student/faculty exchange program with UL and other institutions of higher learning.
Savannah State, the only university awarding a degree in Homeland Security and Emergency Management in the state of Georgia, was interested in extending that program by working with UL to see how they could help Liberia with its ports of entry for the security of its own borders.
Coming to Liberia to form a partnership with the University of Liberia was like coming home, she said, since Liberia and the State of Georgia have a rich black history in common regarding the emancipation of former slaves.
Founded in 1890 by Richard R. Wright, Sr., who was born into slavery, Savannah State University is the oldest public historically black college in Georgia.
President Sirleaf expressed her gratitude and said that she was honored that SSU would see Liberia as a home. The President also announced the formation of the partnership with Liberia’s flagship tertiary institution. She said the historical connection with the United States was clear, as evident by the continuous support from past and current U.S. administrations and the Congress, which has, over the years, made the United States Liberia’s number one bilateral partner. She expressed hope that the partnership would also encourage people-to-people outreach and increase student/staff exchange.
She hailed UL president, Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, for being an ambassador in government’s quest to restore quality education in Liberia, especially at the tertiary level. She described him as bridge builder between overseas and Liberian universities.
Dr. Dennis, in his comments, expressed satisfaction that his efforts to resuscitate the University of Liberia were gaining momentum, and he praised President Sirleaf’s administration for their support in realizing the dream. He thanked Liberia’s Honorary Consul General, Madam Cynthia Nash, for making contact possible with several U.S. universities.