-Says Finance Minister Tweah
The current shortage of qualified teachers in classrooms across the country is far from relief as the Liberian government doesn’t plan to hire qualified teachers anytime soon.
Finance and Development Planning Minister and National Independence Day Orator, Samuel Tweah, in his July 26 address, said currently the government lacks the needed resources to address the country’s persistent need for qualified teachers.
“The number of sub-standard teachers providing instruction in schools is still too large, but attracting higher quality teachers has serious cost implications because the 2018/19 national budget has absorbed some 2,000 healthcare workers.
“The fiscal space to take on 6,000 new teachers that are needed to close what has been called the teaching gap is not available,” Min. Tweah said.
However, he has suggested that the government develops a national service scheme policy to address once and for all the continued shortage of qualified teachers in schools across the country.
Mr. Tweah noted that such a scheme could drastically reduce the high level of sub-standard teachers in classrooms across the country, thereby addressing Liberia’s human capital need.
He added that the poor state of human capital development underpins the country’s transformation because a nation is only as good as the quality of its human and institutional capabilities.
“For the scheme to work properly and address our need for qualified teachers, it should be attached to scholarships for advanced degrees in order to attract qualified university graduates into the teaching field.
“It is important to overhaul the whole structure and foundation of government scholarship programs, linking scholarship to national service. The Ministry of Education already has a program to attract a small number of college folks. We just have to blow this out. This scheme can help make the difference but it provides incentive (scholarship) to qualified university graduates to venture into the teaching field. This is the easiest way government can close the teaching gap.
“We should all push our students to work harder and strive for excellence. This program can compete with centers of gambling and gaming that now distract our youth from a productive focus on their school work. The government, development partners and non-governmental organizations should work together to develop and sustain such a program,” Mr. Tweah said.
The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) report — released during the 2016 celebration of the World Teacher Day — highlights that Sub-Saharan Africa faces the largest teacher gap.
The report revealed that in sub-Saharan Africa– the region with the fastest growing school-age population – more than 70% of the student population in countries in sub-Saharan Africa face teacher shortages in primary schools, while 90% do not have enough secondary teachers.
The report added in order to meet sustainable development goal four, which specifically calls for more qualified teachers and more teacher training in developing countries, roughly 17 million primary and secondary teachers will need to be recruited and trained in sub-Saharan Africa within the next 14 years.
Furthermore, this has led to overcrowding of classrooms across the continent. UIS estimates show that in 15 African countries, primary school classrooms are overcrowded, with each trained teacher typically having more than 40 pupils.