Education Minister George Werner says the Public Private Partnership (PPP) that the government is bringing to the education system is to ensure that there are qualified teachers in every classroom to educate Liberians of school going age.
Defending the PPP arrangement with the Ministry of Education, he told students at the UL campus recently that the Ministry spends US$40 million a year, of which US$38 million goes to salaries.
“A greater portion of this salary goes to ghost names and the government does not have the money to continue on such a path,” he said.
Minister Werner said the government’s action is to get the private sector involved in helping government to monitor and take responsibility to ensure that the resources are used for the right people.
He noted that students need education that will prepare them to contribute to the economy, to revive the country’s education and the economy.
Minister Werner warned that if changes being developed by the government are not welcomed, those against the changes should know that with the current educational structure, their future would be at stake and unsecured.
He explained that there are 1.5 million Liberian kids in the various private and public schools in places such as Grand Kru and other parts of the interior that need to be monitored.
Minister Werner regretted the poor quality of teachers and the gender disparity and inequality that is prevalent, and needed to be fixed.
He said the PPP arrangement does not mean that a private institution is taking over the Liberian educational system.
“There are more private schools in the country and we see no reason to privatize public schools,” Minister Werner said.
He reechoed the Ministry’s position that without the partnership, Liberia stands to fail to make positive changes to turn around the mess that Liberia’s education has suffered.
The government of Liberia is introducing a PPP agreement that will allow a private institution to take full responsibility for payment of teachers of schools that will fall under it, and to carry out all necessary maintenance work and provide learning materials.
The PPP arrangement has been criticized by some school administrators, but it is strongly supported by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Teachers threatening not to go along with the decision have also been threatened by the President with dismissal for refusing a test to determine their qualification.