George Werner, the controversial Minister of Education, has come under sharp criticism from Montserrado County District # 4 Representative Henry B. Fahnbulleh.
Rep. Fahnbulleh, former National Secretary General of the ruling Unity Party (UP), has branded Minister Werner as inept, “because the job is (too) big for him.”
The statement came in the wake of several complaints questioning the ‘know-how’ of Minister Werner to implement education policies, as well as his unpopularity with the Legislature.
The lawmaker made the assertion in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer yesterday after the Plenary of the House of Representatives rescheduled Werner’s appearance owing to technical reasons.
Rep. Fahnbulleh, who professes to be a development specialist, said since his appointment, Mr. Werner has brought only “chaos in the education sector and has never scored any achievement.”
“Mr. Werner is a man of empty talk who can only identify the problem but is unable to crack it,” said the Montserrado County lawmaker who is a member of the House Good Government and Governance Committee.
Werner’s actions, ranging from altering the school calendar and presently his readiness to outsource education reform to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) as well as his utterances, prove the Education Minister not only to be incompetent, but also “a man of chaos,” Fahnbulleh said.
Rep. Fahnbulleh warned that it is very risky to leave the education sector in the hands of Mr. Werner, who has no idea of implementing policies, but only capable of fancy speeches.
“Mr. Werner lacks the qualifications and skills required of an education minister,” Rep. Fahnbulleh insisted.
“How can he equate our high school graduates with fourth grade students in the US and be afraid to align himself to what he said?” he asked.
Rep. Fahnbulleh was quick to point out that an effective education minister “identifies the problem and solves it.” He should be a political technocrat with a fairly lengthy professional experience, he added.
Meanwhile, according to the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives, Mildred Clerk, the letter rescheduling Minister Werner’s appearance before Plenary will be released today.
It may be recalled that the House of Representatives summoned Minister Werner to appear before Plenary on Tuesday, April 19, in their Chambers, but postponed the Minister’s appearance owing to technical reasons.
Minister Werner is expected to explain to the lawmakers issues surrounding students awarded Italian Government Scholarships, provide information on the new educational reform known as Public Private Partnership, and explain why he has been ‘disrespectful’ to the House Education Committee.
According to the resolution of the Italian Scholarship Beneficiaries Parents Association (ISBPA), a copy of which is in possession of the Daily Observer, the parents said the Liberian government in collaboration with the government of Italy, announced through the Ministry of Education the availability of scholarships for students in grades 8 and 9 and ranging from 14 to 18 years of age.
The parents of the students said out of the 64 students who sat for the test, 27 passed in 2014. The then Minister of Education, Etmonia David Tarpeh, in the same year wrote the then Foreign Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan to request for a Note Verbale, which he immediately provided to the Italian Embassy in Cote d’Ivoire.
“Upon this communication to the Italian Embassy, the children were taken to Cote d’Ivoire for the requested visa issuance on February 26, 2015 and subsequently returned to Monrovia on March 6, 2015 after the completion of the visa process.
“The parents were cited to the MOE Conference Hall and informed that their children would have left Liberia for Italy by March 14, 2015, especially after they had been presented to the President of Liberia, who initiated the scholarships. It is interesting to note that, as of the said timing and now, nothing has been revealed as to what has happened to the entire process,” stated a resolution by the parents expressing their frustration.
“The MOE should immediately reverse his decision and allow these children to travel to further their studies in Italy. The MOE should begin the arrangement for the children to leave Liberia for Italy no later than May 2016,” the resolution concluded.