‘Gov’t Fails in 60% Concessions’ Signature Fees to Education’

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-IDI Executive Director Dixon observes

The Executive Director of the Inclusive Development Initiative (IDI), Alonzo Dorian Dixon has said that the challenges facing the educational sector are as a result of the government’s failure to make available the agreed 60 percent signatures fees provided for in the Education Reform Act (ERA) of 2011.

Dixon said the act provides that 60 percent of all of the signature fees realized from any concession agreement for investment in the extractive mineral entered into by the government and any concessionaire be allotted as a support to the education budget for any fiscal year, which, according to Dixon, the government has fallen short of doing.

He made the disclosure on Friday, June 19, at the launch of a campaign under the banner “More-For-Education” at his Johnson Street office in Monrovia.

Dixon, quoting a survey conducted recently by his entity, said they discovered that awareness on the existence of the ERA is very low. “Citizens’ knowledge of the ERA is also low, and knowledge of payment of signature fees to the education sector is unknown to the people.”

Dixon believes that no government institution is conducting any compliance monitoring of the impact of the ERA, ”And the education sector seems not to be benefiting from the payment of signatures fees as enshrined in the ERA of 2011.”

According to him, the goal of the campaign is to advocate for a minimum of 20 percent allocation of the National Budget to the education sector in the 2020/2021 fiscal year.

“We will engage education stakeholders and policymakers including the Lawmakers to see the reason to increase the Education budget to a minimum of 20 percent,” Dixon noted. According to him, the 20 percent is a benchmark with references to the Incheon Declaration of 2015, Dakar Framework of 2000 and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) minimum standard for Sub-Shara Countries including Liberia to make the allocation of minimum 4%-6% of their countries gross domestic product (GDP) to education.

Also, he recounted that during the 2017/2018 budget year, the education sector received 14.6 percent. “In the 2018/2019 budget, it was 15.8 percent.”

Commenting on the Education Ministry’s “Teaching by Radio Program,” Dixon lauded the initiative but wants the ministry to include ‘Teaching By Television Program,” with sign language interpreters for the deaf. “The deaf students are a vital portion of the disabled population in the country,” said Dixon.

He disclosed that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, IDI has shifted its operation; leaning towards providing information and awareness to prevent the spread of the virus throughout the country.

“IDI is also collaborating with the National Union of Organizations of the Disabled and other organizations of Disabled people in Liberia to distribute hand sanitizers, nose masks, faucet buckets, and food items to the disabled community in Montserrado County,” Dixon said.

The Education Reform Act (ERA) of 2011, particularly Chapter 9, states: “As part of its responsibilities, the government shall be the primary financier of public education; as such, public education shall be financed through the national budget.”

The Act states further, “In addition to the recurrent government budgetary appropriation for education, all concession agreements for investment in the extractive mineral and other non-renewable resource sectors, as well as in the agriculture sector and in major privatization contracts, shall require that sixty percent (60%) of any signature fees realized shall be allocated to the education budget and the terms and conditions of all such agreements and contracts shall include a negotiated fixed annual amount as social responsibility fee for education which, when paid, shall be made available as transfer and or subsidy to the annual cost of education in Liberia.”

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