Over 400 students from the grades 1 thru 12, attending schools in Grand Bassa County as well as college, university, and post-graduate students hailing from that county have been selected as the first scholarship beneficiaries of the newly established Grand Bassa County Education Foundation.
In a Daily Observer exclusive interview at her Capitol Building office in Monrovia, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence said the Foundation was established with the involvement of the entire county leadership, including the County Council, which is responsible for making allocations in the implementation of the County Development Fund.
“So they have the power and did their own articles of incorporation to register as a non-governmental organization (NGO) for education, with a board and a staff. We gave US$100,000 as a county to that educational foundation, with the mandate that it benefits every district in the county,” Senator Lawrence said.
She recalled how before the foundation, the county’s scholarships were only benefitting college students schooling out of Bassa County in places like Monrovia (UL) and Suakoko (Cuttington), while students in Bassa, who made up over 90 percent of the population, were not benefitting.
“So they did their own criteria, guideline and sent out application forms to every district and at the end over 400 students were qualified, including two for the Master’s program,” Senator Lawrence said.
The Foundation, she said, has already concluded payment for the entire first semester, adding, “We are focusing on children averaging from an 85 grade and above 3 grade-point average in college, unlike in the past when everybody was qualified.”
Senator Lawrence, who chairs the Senate Committee on Post and Telecommunications, said any donation received for the county will go through the foundation, adding, “What we have asked is that the foundation be audited annually by external auditors so that at the conclusion of every school year they have to present their external audit report for our viewing before they can get approval for the next payment.”
Senator Lawrence said that the foundation requested and agreed that anything lobbied upon by members of the Legislative Caucus or as Legislators on behalf of the county, such as school bus, books, is for the Foundation, adding, “We have a system that is accountable to the Government when it comes to our Social and County Development Funds.”
The Foundation’s Board, according to Senator Lawrence, is chaired by the head of the Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC) Foundation School System, Moses Seway, and comprises the Principals’ Association, Teachers’ Association, County Authority, the PMC, a representation of the county caucus, the
County Authority, and the company that is providing the Social Development Fund.
Senator Lawrence then emphasized the importance that the Foundation attached to strictly-laid-out administrative regulations such as one that stipulates that the three-person administrative staff is not allowed to spend more than 10 percent of any amount that they receive on administrative costs.
Besides giving out the scholarships, whose recipients will be published shortly, the Foundation has put in place a system of scrupulously checking the number of scholarships awarded, and monitoring and evaluating the academic performance of recipients.