… for public universities and secondary students
What would be a relief to public university and secondary students and praiseworthy to the CDC-led government is appearing on the floor of the House of Representative with recently defeated senatorial candidate and Montserrado County District #5 Representative, Thomas Fallah, submitting a bill seeking to legalize tuitions free academic institutions and payment of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) for 9th and 12th graders respectively.
With its appearance on the floor for the first time on Thursday, January 14, 2021, a motion proffered by Margibi County District #4 Representatative Ben Fofana compelled the bill to be forwarded to the Committee on Education and Public Administration, and Ways, Means, Finance and Development Planning. The Joint Committee will report in two (2) weeks.
If approved by the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the President and then printed into a handbill, It will relieve underprivileged students of financial burden that causes them to spend more years in pursuit of an undergraduate degree.
In his communication to the House Plenary, Rep. Fallah said the bill intends to legalize tuition waiver for all public universities and colleges and the payment for WASCCE fees for 12th and 9th grades respectively. This is arguably the first bill coming from Rep. Fallah since the 54th Legislature began work three years ago.
The bill, when it becomes law, will cause the University of Liberia, Tubman University and community colleges around the country to be overwhelmed by the presence of huge number of students.
As the bill gets on the floor to be vetted with legislative and public scrutiny, Education Professor at the University of Liberia Graduate School, Mwalimu-Koh Blonkanjay Jackson, says while it may be a good idea to have such a law, it is also good that the person proffering it identifies the source of funding to facilitate such a venture.
Mr. Jackson, in a telephone interview with the Daily Observer on January 14, said: “Declaring tuition free institution requires proper planning and research. You know that the President declared tuition free for universities here, and before that the universities were collecting fees. So if the government would by law make tuition free public universities and community colleges, it must identify the source of funding and the will power to implement such a law must be in place.”
He added that since the President began paying WASSCE fees for junior and senior secondary students, the very schools have devised income strategies in the form of library fees, Parent Teacher Association (PTA) fees and others that cover equally or perhaps in excess of what students were paying before. He, therefore, said “When you make such a law, the source of funding and the implementation must commensurate with the law.”
The bill seeking tuition free universities and waiver of WASSCE fees for junior and secondary students by the CDC lawmaker is coinciding with President Weah’s unannounced tour to five public secondary schools in Monrovia and its surburbs.
The five schools visited included William V.S. Tubman High, Monrovia Demonstration, Newport High, Boatswain and the D. Twe High.
Accordingly, owing to the inadequate sitting capacity for students, the President mandated Finance Minister Samuel Tweah to ensure that sufficient arm chairs are purchased for schools in need. He ordered the purchase of 100,000 arm chairs.
He emphasized that local vendors, rather than foreign importers, should be prioritized in procuring the arm chairs.
President Weah assured students and administrators of the schools visited that he would ensure that the Government creates a conductive atmosphere for learning, including equipping libraries and laboratories.