Johnson N. Gwaikolo, Nimba County District #9 Representative, who also chairs the House Committee on Education, has called on the Executive Branch, through the Ministry of Education (MoE), to license teachers across the country in compliance with the new Education Reform Act of 2011.
Rep. Gwaikolo’s recommendation is against the backdrop of students’ mass failure in public exams and to also promote integrity in the country’s education system.
Prior to his election in 2017 as member of the 54th Legislature, Gwaikolo served as president of the United Methodist University (UMU) in Monrovia.
He said the idea to license teachers will raise education standard, bring about the much talked-about commitment to the teaching profession, and also curtail the ineffectiveness of teachers in classroom management.
Rep. Gwaikolo made the recommendation recently when he addressed reporters in his office at the Capitol. He said challenges in the education sector are huge, and so for the teaching staff to achieve the ministry’s expected output from students, they need to be licensed which, he believes, will commit them to the profession.
“Teaching is the topmost challenging profession, which requires teachers to be fully committed, as well as engage the student,” he said.
“I agree 100 percent for our teachers to be licensed. That is why I mentioned that an accountant, who has just graduated, cannot just start teaching. There are certain requirements that an incoming teacher must learn before he/she can teach in any school. There are certain tests that one must write to be qualified as licensed teachers,” the Nimba County lawmaker said.
Some educational economists argue that for the successful implementation of a license for teachers, it is necessary for the education sector to formulate step by step procedures that will navigate a candidate through the licensing process successfully, without middlemen who will make room for corrupt practices.
In a related development, Rep. Gwaikolo has also pledged to support teaching of the Constitution in schools, “because many of our compatriots are of the belief that the authorities at the Ministry of Education and the Commission on Higher Education are reportedly violating article 10 of the Liberian Constitution, which is completely against the constitutional rights of the Liberian people.”
According to Article 10 of the 1986 Liberian constitution, “The Republic shall ensure the publication and dissemination of this Constitution throughout the republic, and the teaching of its principles and provisions in all institutions of learning.”
Gwaikolo added: “I don’t see the reason why the Constitution should not be taught in schools, because some education partners have made copies of the Constitution available to most of us. Therefore, it is good to teach its content, because it will prepare our students for civic duties.”
The Constitution, he said, is comprised of how this nation came about and what are some of the basic organic laws that govern citizens’ behaviors and interactions, etc.
He then expressed gratitude to the World Bank for its support to construct education-related infrastructures, including laboratories, libraries and in-service teacher training.