Leveraging Partnerships for Standards in Higher Education

Dr. Edward Lama Wonkeryor, NCHE’s Director-General

— Expected to get its headquarters soon, the NCHE is tapping into every possible resource to improve Liberia’s tertiary education environment

Efforts to improve education in Liberia, especially at the tertiary level, cannot be overemphasized as the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE) makes strides amid difficult circumstances such as lack of logistics and a space of its own to operate smoothly. 

Amid the difficult realities, however, the Commission is expected to get its relief from rent payment as the University of Liberia (UL) has agreed to yield a parcel of land from its Fendall Campus for the construction of the headquarters of NCHE. For now, NCHE operates from a leased property which, the organization says, is less than adequate.

Dr. Edward Lama Wonkeryor, NCHE’s director-general, in his presentation at the recently held Cabinet Retreat in Nimba County, expressed gratitude to the UL administration for accepting to offer land for the construction of NCHE’s headquarters, which would eventually save the Government of Liberia the expense of yet another an annual lease in the national budget.

He took the helm at the NCHE in September 2021, replacing Dr. Michael Slawon.

“We have successfully negotiated with the University of Liberia for two to three acres of land to erect headquarters for the NCHE secretariat. In this context, we have engaged the Chinese government to build the secretariat’s headquarters and our discussion in this regard is progressing rapidly.”

Wonkeyor did not state when the construction project will begin but assured that the project might kickoff in the not-too-distant future.

When contacted, Cllr. Norris Tweah, Vice President for UL Relations, confirmed that there is an ongoing discussion between NCHE and the University of Liberia about the land and he is certain that the final steps leading to NCHE acquiring the land will soon be completed.

“We have enough land space and the Higher Education Commission’s expression of interest to be given two or three acres is a welcoming idea. I do not doubt that they will receive the portion required to build their headquarters,” Tweah said via a mobile phone interview over the weekend.

In continuation, Wonkeyor further disclosed that USAID has also expressed interest to supply the NCHE with a vehicle and some office equipment, including computers, to enhance the Commission’s operations.

“TESTS/USAID has agreed to provide the NCHE with one vehicle, eight [laptop] computers, and other accessories for offices, and they are expected to be delivered in August 2022,” he said in his presentation at the retreat.

He added that  NCHE has established a relationship with the Ernest Bai Kromah University of Science and Technology in Makeni, Sierra Leone, to collaborate on the verification of credentials, audits, and synchronization of a curriculum for higher institutions of learning in West Africa.

“We attended the UNESCO’s Third World Higher Education Conference in Barcelona, Spain, from May 17-21, 2022, where I illuminated the strides made by the Liberian government in the higher education sector since 2018, as well as the challenges affecting Liberia’s higher education system. I also urged UNESCO to provide Liberia with higher education specialists to complement the National Commission on Higher Education’s programmatic efforts in reforming Liberia’s higher education sector.”

Wonkeyor noted that the NCHE has completed a five-year higher education transformation plan toward a more relevant and competitive quality output for national development, beginning 2022 to 2026, and the plan has been submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for budgetary support to enable the commission to implement it. 

“Under my leadership, the NCHE has purchased a motorbike for the Monitoring and Evaluation Division to carry out its functions by collecting data on institutions that are operating illegally,” he disclosed.

He said the NCHE is doing all in its capacity to ensure a smooth learning environment for all members of the disabled community, including the visually impaired and physically challenged, who are enrolled in colleges and universities across the country.  

Wonkeryor added that discussions are underway to establish transfer and matriculation agreements between institutions and to adopt a code of conduct for staff of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), including administrators, through a workshop and the NCHE and HEIs will focus on students with disabilities having better access to the learning environments.

“In our continuing efforts to reform the higher education system of Liberia, we will begin shutting down bogus institutions of higher learning in the country that are operating illegally and giving vain credentials to students,” he concluded.