‘Free University Tuition Does Not Cover Other Fees,’ MOE Clarifies

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MoE's Deputy Minister for Administration, Latim Da-Thong

Acting Minister of Education, Latim Da-Thong, has clarified that President George Weah’s pronouncement of tuition-free for undergraduate students at public tertiary institutions does not cover fees for registration, ID card, handbooks, among other expenses.

The minister, speaking at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism regular Thursday press conference, said no matter how well the government develops the country, if the human capital is not built, everything the government has worked for will collapse in the future.

“The most important resources of Liberia are Liberians. If we develop the people we will have the chance to sustain our nation and not depend on foreigners,” he said.

“Think about the government investing billions of dollars in building roads; what will it take to invest in building the Liberian people? The total tuition of a student going to the UL is between US$50-60; so even if you talk about 20,000 students it will be around a million or two million dollars and that is not too much for President Weah to give back to the Liberian people,” Minister Da-Thong said.

He said the government spends more money doing things that are not necessary or benefiting the country. Therefore, investing in the future generation must not be something that people will criticize.

He said the future benefits of President Weah’s decision would be twenty times better than what the government is investing now.

“Many of the young people that are to benefit from the President’s pronouncement will be able to give back six years from now. Some of them will be great experts for this country so that we can stop depending on a foreign capability to build our country,” Thong said.

He said there are many sources in the country where the government can take money from to pay students’ tuition; but the fact is that the Liberian people were not prioritized in the past.

Da-Thong said public universities will continue to be tuition-free as long as President Weah is in the driver’s seat, and he hoped that the subsequent administrations will make it last forever.

He said the contribution that free tuition makes to the university budget is a drop in the ocean that the government can absorb without any problem.

Da-Thong said considering the government’s interest in education, they have set up a national intervention program for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) to help students prepare for the Exam.

“Every Saturday students will be meeting and having classes in 93 districts in the country and 102 centers, to prepare them ahead of the exam,” Thong said.

He said after the tutorial classes, the students will have to sit a two-month trial test before going for the WASSCE Exam, with the goal of Liberia coming up with flying colors in the regional test.

President George Weah visited the campus of the University of Liberia on Wednesday, October 24 and declared that both public universities in the country (University of Liberia and Tubman University) are tuition-free.

He said as a visitor to the University of Liberia, he is fully aware of the challenges facing the institution and now is the right time for the government to turn its attention to the development of the country’s manpower needs.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Minister Da – Thong said, “so even if you talk about 20,000 students it will be around a million or two million dollars and that is not too much for President Weah to give back to the Liberian people.” Minister, a Million or 2 Million is not George Weah’s money. It’s the Liberian people money….just to clarify things before CDCIANS seize on this.

  2. This was not a planned policy driven announcement but just a “knee jerk, “shooting from the hip” decision. It is not allocated in the budget that was approved. Where is this money coming from? How much are we even talking about? Was this allocated in the present budget? How is it being financed in the budget? How are we going to raise this huge additional budgetary allotment? These are questions that have to be answered before a well determined announcement is made. Such decision has to be discussed and even better, approved by the House and Senate and not based on an executive decision. While it is very laudable to offer free education, this is an immature, amateurish, poorly thought of decision made by Weah that will have dire consequences for the educational system in the country. I am sure before the other African countries decided this, it was a well thought of, designed and completely researched decision.

    Some may wonder if this was just not a political decision to get back in the good graces of the students since they were the ones in the vanguard of inquiring about the missing monies.

    • Hmm, when will some Liberians learn to appreciate good decision taken by the president, did you make your research or is just the same big empty and free talk of some failed Liberian still going on?

  3. Minister Da-Thong said “public universities will continue to be tuition-free as long as President Weah is in the driver’s seat, and he hoped that the subsequent administrations will make it last forever.” I hope the President can legislate this brilliant policy through the National Legislature and have it rubber-stamped. Because another President could cancel this initiative or policy (Though this could lead to his or her getting booted out of office because Liberians are used to freebies).

    To be honest, this is a great initiative and policy. There are a lot of suffering students in Liberia, and this would be a great help to them. All they need to do now is study hard. I also hope the policy is sustainable, hence it needs to go through an act of Legislation called ‘The Liberia Post-Secondary Realization Funding Act’ (LIPSRFA). The above bill if passed should fund the following……and create such monitoring bodies below

    – All Liberian students who get admitted to undergraduate degree at Public Institutions in the Country
    – All Liberian students entering public or private vocational / technical schools
    – All Liberian students entering public or private Medical, Nursing or Agricultural schools
    – Liaise with all Concession companies to hire students for a year for practical experience…where the company pays 75% of the trainee salary and GOL pay 25%
    – Make all students enter a Liberia National Service Program (LNSP) after their undergraduate post-secondary studies
    – Withhold Certificates, Diplomas or Degrees until students have completed their National Service, and those who opt out of the National Service Program, should pay back all of the tuitions given to them during their studies
    – Come out with a policy that forbid students who do not complete their national service from working in the private or public sector….and this should be done by certifying students at the end of their national service
    – Create a National Scholarship Secretariat that works closely with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Youth and Sports and the Public Service Commission
    – Come up with a new Payroll Tax for all Liberian in the Public or Private sector to pay at least $1.00 a month to pay the cost of sustainability of the above policy
    – Funds collected from the Payroll Tax should be given to the National Scholarship Secretariat every month without government interference, and said funds should be accounted for every fiscal year through the National Legislature

  4. Mr. Deputy Minister, thanks for explaining it yah, becuz, dey way I see it, dey pepo were thinking President Weah meant, free ticket though college oh; even with this correction, I strongly believe these schools, without substantial assistance, be it from GOL or the private sector, will have a difficult time carrying out the day to day operation of said institutions. It appears to be a good step forward, but from where I sit, not properly vetted. Howbeit, let’s all work together in the interest of Mama Liberia.

  5. Free undergraduate Education in Liberian Public Universities does not cover Fees for registration, ID Card, Handbooks and other Expenses. Woh!! what a great free Education!!. Must I say that the so called Free Education is coming with a PRICE that is higher than the very Tuition, the President is declaring FREE? This announcement is confusing by definition because according to the Honourable Minister, Liberia needs human Capital not to collapse. This means, other EXPENSES that are unknown, maybe the replacement of the free Tuition. Handbooks, ID Card and registration Fees are additions. All of these hidden requirements will be expensive for the already Poor and unemployed Liberian families. Since the announcement, Liberians have been concerned on how the Pro-Poor Government intents to finance the Free Under Graduate Education. Now, the Administration has shown her hidden Plan that will have negative effect on Students and Parents. This Administration continues to announce EMPTY POLICIES with no financial backing. When will this stop?

  6. Free tuition at the government ran universities is not a step forward. And this may result to another protest. The recent protest by the students of the University of Liberia was about the recent increment in tuition. Why free tuition? The tuition paid by students had being covering so many things. He should have appealed to administration of the university not to increase tuition than to say free tuition.
    Our educational system is a mess. Liberia has joined others countries to take WASSCE. There are not textbooks, libraries and laboratories across the country. There are not incentives for teachers. There are not enough school buildings in Monrovia. Therefore, nearly all government schools in Monrovia are overcrowded. Take for example; Demonstration School right on Clay and Camp Johnson has over 80 students in some classes. If the university of Liberia had nothing to do with tuition paid by students, the money could be used to build more school buildings, create libraries, laboratories across the country and import WASSCE prescribed textbooks from Ghana and Nigeria for students and teachers to use. Tuition free is will surely cause another problem as there will be increment in registration and other fees.

  7. Free tuition at the government ran universities is not a step forward. And this may result to another protest. The recent protest by the students of the University of Liberia was about the recent increment in tuition. Why free tuition? The tuition paid by students had being covering so many things. He should have appealed to administration of the university not to increase tuition than to say free tuition.
    Our educational system is a mess. Liberia has joined others countries to take WASSCE. There are not textbooks, libraries and laboratories across the country. There are not incentives for teachers. There are not enough school buildings in Monrovia. Therefore, nearly all government schools in Monrovia are overcrowded. Take for example; Demonstration School right on Clay and Camp Johnson Streets has over 80 students in some classes. If the university of Liberia had nothing to do with tuition paid by students, the money could be used to build more school buildings, create libraries, laboratories across the country and import WASSCE prescribed textbooks from Ghana and Nigeria for students and teachers to use. Tuition free is will surely cause another problem as there will be increment in registration and other fees.

  8. It is time to reflect on the growing political fanaticism that has the propensity to impede free speech and constructive criticism in Liberia.

    As one anonymous philosopher noted, “The real problem with which modern government has to deal with is how to protect their citizens against the encroachment upon their rights and liberties by their own government, how to save their own citizens from the repressive schemes born of the egotism of public office.”

    To President Weah’s political fanatics, in as much as I want this president to succeed, because when he succeeds, all Liberians succeed. Yet, I’m not a political puppet, nor, do I owe my allegiance to any political party except God and my country.

    There are few political watch-dogs and fanatics of President Weah on these public forums who would go to any length to suppress critics of the president’s failed policies by any means necessary.

    These die-hard Weah’s fanatics have the tendencies not to express their views through counter-arguments and rebuttals. These fanatics tried to suppress their fellow Liberians freedom of speech by stooping so low to insult their opponents who have different views on President Weah’s half-baked, ill-advised, simplistic solutions to Liberia’s complicated economic and educational problems….that have the potential of having lasting negative effects on present and future generations.

    For example, these political fanatics tried to suppress President’s Weah’s critics when the president tried to mortgage Liberia’s resources to a little know financial entity (predatory lender) called ETON Finance PTE Ltd., and EBOMAF SA in the amounts of US$536.4 million and US$ 420.8 million respectively: an amount greater than Liberia’s entire budget of US$526.6million.

    Seemingly, here comes another convoluted, quick-fix, unsustainable solution such as a (temporary, un-affordable, for political expediency) tuition free education for undergraduate students at Liberia’s public colleges and Universities which his Deputy Minister of Education, Latim Da-Thong, has come out to put some political spins on a bad decision (pronouncement) which could have been avoided if the president was honestly advised on the legal channel (going through congress) on how to legislatively pass laws on such complex educational policies to permanently alleviate the sufferings of poor students at the same time congress allocating more money to upgrade the public universities and colleges throughout Liberia.

    As you can see, those who are paid with tax payers’ dollars to advise the president on making sound legal, social, political, and economic matters are too afraid to tell the president the truth about the consequences his policy decisions have on the country…whether good or bad.

    To the president political fanatics, remember, President Weah is not president of a political party. He is president of a whole nation of people called Liberians. Our constructive criticisms are within the confines of the law, and we too want the president to succeed for the betterment of the country.

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