Education, Agriculture to Top Discussions at US-Liberia Partnership Dialogue Conference

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United States Ambassador to Liberia, Madam Deborah R. Malac, has disclosed that partnership dialogue aimed at discussing key issues concerning Agriculture, Education, and Energy in Liberia, is to begin soon in Monrovia.

Making the disclosure to the media on February 27, at a Ministry of Information regular press briefing, Ambassador Malac said the dialogue will begin Tuesday, March 4.

The US-Liberia Partnership Dialogue came into existence in 2013, as the result of a memorandum of understanding between the U.S. and Liberia, signed by former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and President Ellen Johnson.

The dialogue according to Ambassador Malac involves a high-level delegation that converges to discuss policies of mutual interest to Liberia and the United States.

She said that the dialogue discusses policy differences and issues of cooperation, while identifying project for implementation to cement the relationship between the two countries.

“The first partnership dialogue was held in May of 2013, in Washington, and Liberia is blessed to have it this year.  We will be looking at three key areas that include Agriculture, which will look at food security, Energy, and human development with emphasis placed on Education: one important issue for the Government of Liberia,” Ambassador Malac noted.

She recalled that during the first discussion in 2013, the two countries discussed food security and energy, and this time, they decided to include Education because it is so important to Liberia, in terms of human development.

Responding to questions from the Daily Observer as to what problems may have been identified in the Education Sector that need to be included in the partnership dialogue, Ambassador Malac intoned that President Sirleaf last year openly told the public that the sector is faced with a huge challenge: Education.

She said considering the challenge, they see it expedient to discuss and find solution to  resolving the problems related to education, so that all Liberians can have access to good and quality education which is a right for the citizens.

On the issue of US-Liberia relation, Ambassador Malac said while there may exist policy differences between the two partnering countries, the relationship is well cemented with no problem on either side.

Also speaking, Liberia Ambassador to the United States, Jeremiah Sulunteh, who is on an official visit in the country emphasized that the dialogue will look at the Education Sector in depth, taking into consideration higher education including universities and colleges.

Ambassador Sulunteh said that cases affecting the sector will be identified and discussed and steps to correct the mistakes will be identified for prompt action.

The issue of education in the US-Liberia Partnership Dialogue is quite significance to the development of Liberia.

The Education system of Liberia has numerous challenges ranging from unqualified instructors to academic fraud.

Most churches upon establishing their religious temple bring up schools as the business aspect of the spiritual activity, and it is being noted that most teachers teaching there are neither qualified nor even academically inclined—basically, emphasizing Bible verses.

At the university level, exchange of money for grade is at its peak, and dual work causes many instructors not to attend to the students, thus causing a setback in their (students) studies.

Moreover, it has been noted over the past weeks that many instructors teaching at universities around Monrovia brought in faked degrees from African Countries including Nigeria. 

A case in point now is the arrest and subsequent detention of former Vice President for Academic Affairs of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion University, N’dien Peters.

Peters, who claimed to posse a Ph.D., was found to have a faked degree and unqualified for the position he held at the Zion University for about four years. He later applied to be a president of the St. Clement University.

Zion Administration investigated the credential status of Peters and he was also sacked because of his questionable academic status.

Upon his arrest, the Cameroonian national claimed there were also many Liberians he knows of, to have faked degrees.  The Commission on Higher Education is investigating; but the names of those concerned are yet to come out. NCHE’s recent moves to address the situation seem to be losing steam.

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