The principal of the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), Harris Tarnue, has reported a constant decline of the Liberian government’s support to BWI.
Delivering his annual report during BWI’s 67th commencement convocation last Saturday, Mr. Tarnue recalled that over the years the Government of Liberia’s support to the Institute has not been regular and, as a result, BWI faces serious challenges in completing many unfinished projects.
Tarnue recalled that in the 2015/2016 academic year, the total budget was US$2.8 million, while in 2016/2017 its budget dropped to US$2.4 million; in 2017/2018 the government budgetary support to BWI was reduced to US$1.8 million.
Due to this low budgetary support, BWI has slowed down major renovation projects, such as the institute’s trade shops, dormitory facilities and housing units for its staff, among others.
In a comprehensive report, Mr. Tarnue clarified that some of the shortfall in government’s support has been supplemented by maintenance from development partners and the institute’s internal income generation, which have brought about a considerable achievement to BWI.
He noted that with the limited support from its development partners to buttress government’s efforts, BWI has made significant progress with respect to equipment in the trade shops and elsewhere on campus.
“BWI is currently championing the vision of establishing a center of excellence in its Technical Vocational and Education Training (TVET) program as well as turning it into a National Regional Hub for TVET and high education and performance,” Mr. Tarnue declared.
He said that since the institute’s last commencement convocation in 2017, much has been achieved in creating a conducive and excellent training and learning center.
“We are pleased to report to you that out of the nine trade shops at BWI, we have completed renovation of at least six,” he said in his report.
According to him, those facilities were not only renovated, they have been transformed into what he called modern learning and training facilities with basic equipment and tools that will enable students to acquire training experience.
“Additionally, the institute has been able to work with partners in expanding its programs and modernizing facilities,” the report further noted.
Mr. Tarnue also said BWI has further extended its solar energy technology curriculum in conjunction with Mercy Corps Liberia and that there are also negotiations underway to finalize the setting up of a mini solar light plant on campus.
Meanwhile, BWI has extended its heavy equipment training in hydraulic and auto electricity with implementation by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) with funding from the Government of Japan.
It can be recalled that in July 2018, following months of training in various vocations, BWI graduated over 200 trainees in excavator operation and maintenance, hydraulics and auto–electricity. Some of these graduates are currently employed in various industries.
BWI has now taken full responsibility for running the Japanese Heavy Equipment Operation School. The Institute has also commenced training in rubber wood furniture production, which was under the implementation of UNIDO.
Moreover, Mr. Tarnue told the gathering that apart from the institute’s regular academic and vocational offerings, more than 200 young people have acquired technical and vocational training from Margibi, Montserrado and Grand Bassa counties.
Currently, the institute has expanded its curriculum in Information Technology and modern furniture production which, according to the principal, has a capacity for students and instructors to be able to manufacture and assemble furniture that can be transported to schools in other parts of the country.
The institute has made significant improvement in other areas, such as the installation of a modern clinical and modern science laboratories.