-Director-General on higher education warns against ‘poor’ infrastructure
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion University (AMEZU) has broken ground for the construction of a 24-classroom building and six office facilities at its Vincent Town, Po River campus in Bomi County.
The project, which is valued at US$200,000, was part of the Interim Management Committee’s initiative to fully move the university from Benson Street in central Monrovia to Po River, Bomi County.
At the groundbreaking ceremony held over the weekend, Dr. Benjamin D. Lartey, acting chairperson and co-chairperson of AME Zion University Interim Management Committee, said the management was delighted to break ground for its new facilities.
Dr. Lartey said the construction will also include two laboratories and six office facilities to accommodate the management team.
“We have 100 acres of land in Vincent Town and intend to fully utilize the space. We have a master plan developed in 2014 for Po River, which envisages a state-of-the-art university. We will invite you within six months for another groundbreaking, which will include 36 classroom building, technology facilities, 15 offices, among others,” Dr. Lartey said.
Dr. Lartey said the construction work of the 24 classrooms and six office facilities will be completed in three months, indicating that “we will immediately move into the building.”
According to Dr. Lartey, the management also intends to bring more buses to assist in commuting students from Monrovia to its Vincent Town campus, an initiative that commenced since the university opened classes in Po River.
Dr. Lartey, who is one of the seven members of the interim team currently managing the university, said the university has 100 acres of land at its Vincent Town Po River campus, which was donated by Bishop Solomon D. Lartey (deceased).
According to Dr. Lartey, the university has over the years moved from business school to community college and a full-fledged university with over 30,000 students.
Rev. Dr. Mulbah Gray, president emeritus of the AME Zion University and current president of the Bomi County Community College (BCCC), said he was delighted to witness the groundbreaking of a 24-classroom building and other facilities in Po River, Bomi County.
Dr. Gray, who was the first Liberian to become president of the university after serving as vice president for administration, pledged 100 bags of cement and promised to support the university to ensure success.
“This was the vision we had, while taking over in 1997, two decades ago, but had numerous challenges. Some critics indicated that transitioning to Po River will slump the enrollment, because of lack of means for students to commute, and we said the devil was a liar. Indeed the devil is a liar. We finally got a bus in 2006 with around 2,500 students,” Dr. Gray, who served from 1997 to 2016, said.
Bomi County inspector Jumah E. S. Goll, who spoke on behalf of the Superintendent of the county, said the AME Zion University’s relocation to Bomi County has brought proud to the county, lauding the administration for the initiative.
“Our children were finding it difficult to move to Monrovia in order to continue their education, especially university education. Today, the construction of a 24-classroom building and other facilities will create more space for other students to enroll at the university. We will continue to support the university,” Mr. Goll said.
The ceremony brought together Mawine G. Diggs, Director-General of National Commission on Higher Education, Rev. Susie A. Kanneh, dean of students, Alfred A. Kulah, vice president for planning, research, and institutional advancement, Dr. Nadu Cooper, chairperson, Board of Trustees, Rev. Christopher W. Toe, presiding elder, Brewerville District AME Zion Church, among others.
“We have an obligation to ensure that we are not just providing education but quality education and standardized facilities to the people of Liberia. We are on the path of were higher education should be in Liberia,” Director Diggs, who also pledged US$500, said.
According to Director Diggs, there is a need for universities across the country to review the curriculum in order to suit the job market in Liberia, indicating that, “It was unfortunate for graduates from universities to be out of job.”
AME Zion University was established in 1983, with the founding of the AME Zion School of business. It was attached to the AME Zion Academy, transitioned into a college in 1987 and has been a university since.