Liberia: UMU President Calls for Partnership to Foster Education

The President of the United Methodist University (UMU), Rev. Yar Donlah Gonway-Gono.

The President of the United Methodist University (UMU), Rev. Yar Donlah Gonway-Gono has called on educational stakeholders to build partnerships with other institutions in order to foster education in Liberia. 

For her, building partnerships is important and cordial to improving the education system in Liberia. "For us at the UMU, we are not just partnering with institutions and individuals, we are intentionally Widening the Academic Space by the introduction of professions that are meaningful for the growth and survival of this country,’’ she said.

Rev. Gonway-Gono made the call when she launched the Patrizia Ziveri School of Marine Sciences in partnership with the Blue Action Network (BAN). The school is the first department to offer degrees in Marine Science in the country that will afford students the opportunity to study Oceanography, marine biology, or fisheries. The duration of the course is four years, and the syllabus is divided into two semesters per year.

The groundbreaking initiative, undertaken in partnership with the Blue Action Network (BAN), is geared toward offering interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary marine sciences courses, with a focus on researching critically such contemporary issues as environmental change, human impacts on the ocean, and biodiversity. Marine science is a rich discipline that combines studies from a variety of subjects in order to understand the marine environment, marine life, and their interactions.  And that marine scientists play a pivotal role in the human quest to understand the world and manage its resources.

The vast majority of Liberia's population lack knowledge of marine environment management as such there have been illegal activities including the dumping of waste into the ocean and the wetland. 

The school, according to the University President, will train students on how to  conserve Liberia’s marine environments that are under threat from ocean dumping and global warming. “The protection of any nation's valuable and natural resources is always in the hands of specialized professionals, and it is that pool of human capital that UMU wants to create for the defense of the country as far as the marine world is concerned”, Rev. Gonway-Gono added.

The launch of the Patricia Ziveri comes after the University of Liberia and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture established a Fishery Science Program in the William R. Tolbert, Jr. College of Agriculture and Forestry.  Through a  US$1.2m grant from the World Bank NaFAA and UL will recruit and train high school graduates for enrollment.

“The conservation and sustainable use of marine resources are two sides of the same coin. Second, we need to build adequate infrastructures, including scientific laboratories and new partnerships," Rev. Gonway-Gono said.

“I commend the Blue Action Network for collaborating with the university on this initiative,” she said. “The MOU between the United Methodist University and the Blue Action Network will formally be signed today. I call for a change from local and national initiatives to an urgent, coordinated international effort. I call on all partners present or absent to support the UMU in making this a reality — not only for the university community but for Liberia.” 

She added that the school will continue to collaborate with partners and the Government to push the interest of our young people by unifying efforts to rebuild and reconstruct the country.

“We will rise to the educational challenges facing the world, especially our part of the world, by making sure that all the modern technologies that will benefit the world fifty years from now are brought to the UMU and taught there. You would agree with me, that if we had taught Marine Sciences or introduced it in," Dr. Gono said.

The school was named in honor of Professor Dr. Patrizia Ziveri, a Research Professor at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Spain.

Dr. Ziveri  who joined via zoom said the launching of the  school is important because many Liberians depend on the marine environment for sustainability. “I am very honored that you named the school  after me. My background is in marine science. In fact I have worked in different institutions. I want to please welcome this incredible initiative in Liberia.” 

Shaqick Hoossein, World Senior Environmental Specialist commended the school leadership and encouraged the students to take advantage of the new program that will help to boost the marine environment.

“There is a need for capacity, there is a need for local knowledge to be put into the various legislation, regulations and management of the environment. Gone are the days where we are looking up to outside,” he said.

 Sheck Sherif, CEO, BAN  said the school will be co-manage by BAN and will offer degrees, certificates and diplomas for professionals.