-Minister Tweah discloses
Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel A. Tweah says the country will need US$3 to 4 million to address the payment of students’ fees at the state-run university and other colleges.
Minister Tweah made the disclosure on Friday during the inauguration of the officers elect of the Liberia National Students Union (LINSU) at the Executive Pavilion in central Monrovia.
It may be recalled that President George Weah recently announced free tuition of the University of Liberia (UL) and Tubman University in Maryland County. However, Liberians and opposition parties have been concerned about the cost of the entire initiative.
President Weah further said considering the constraints students at the public universities face each semester, and the need to push the Pro-poor Agenda through capacity and skills development, it is now the time for students attending the institutions to learn without any worry of tuition.
The program brought together Rivercess County Senator Conmany B. Wesseh; Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Williametta Piso Saydee-Tarr, representatives of West African Students Union (WASU), president of the Federation of the Liberian Youth (FLY) Augustine Tamba, former presidents of LINSU, current presidents of various universities, and students from various high schools among others.
Mr. Tweah further called on the leadership of LINSU to challenge the government of President Weah to do more for the students community, including programs that will positively impact their lives.
“LINSU must engage into concrete programs and avoid engaging into a situation that will keep this constituent inactive. LINSU must speak truth to power and positively engage or inspire the government on issues that will benefit the entire student community,” Mr. Tweah indicated.
He called on the newly elected leaders to begin to mobilize and galvanize for the talents, capabilities, energy, and effectiveness of all students to work toward national unity.
“The struggle of the students’ movement has reached a new height. It’s not about coming to power, but using the power to empower and liberate the young men and women in Liberia. Today, under the pro-poor masses government, no student in public universities, and community colleges will pay fees to acquire education,” Mr. Tweah said, reconfirming President Weah’s statement.
According to him, the cost of providing free education for public universities and colleges would be valued at US$3 to US$4 million a year, an initiative that the Pro-poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity is capable of handling.
“In a government that has a budget of US$570 million and would go to US$700 million under President Weah’s regime of intensive revenue collection, US$4 million annually to spend on the sons and daughters of Liberia was nothing,” Mr. Tweah said.
Mr. Tweah, who is a former student leader, said LINSU has had a long history and hoped under Mohammed Grandhi Kamara, the newly elected president of the Liberia National Students Union, will be a new organization.
“Today, we want to assure you, the new leadership of LINSU that this government stands with you in transforming the organization to the one that represents Liberian students. This is a possibility for a new engagement for the achievements and dreams of the young people of Liberia,” he said.
“More than 40 years of students struggle, political activism under the umbrella of various students movements across the country, all of these struggles have now accumulated today to the mass ascendancy of the masses themselves,” Mr. Tweah said.
According to him, the ascendency of Weah to the presidency serves as the end of the struggle of student movements across the country.
Senator Wesseh, who administered the oath to the newly elected officers warned the leadership not to stay in power forever. He said the student leadership is not meant for older people, calling on the elected officers to remain committed to running or steering the affairs of the student community in the country.
“You should be able to give chance to the younger ones as well. Don’t learn to always be in student leadership. As student leaders, we have the greater responsibilities to deliver and seek the interest of the student constituent in Liberia,” Senator Wesseh, who was a former president of LINSU and student activist, said.
Varney Jarsey, former president of LINSU, said he was pleased to turn over power or the leadership of the student community to newly elected officers.
“If anyone is not happy here today, I’m happy. Despite all of the many battles and struggles within LINSU, we were able to organize this election and today, new officers have been given the authority peacefully,” Mr. Jarsey said.
Those elected included: Mohammed Grandhi Kamara, president; Vick June E. Wutoh, vice president for national affairs; D. Josiah Wamah, secretary general; as well as Isaac Muapoh and Jah Wolobag Beyan.
Mohammed G. Kamara said rebranding LINSU remains key on the agenda of the new leadership, acknowledging how past leaderships faced marginalization and prosecution for their uncompromising stance in championing students’ interest, thus leading to a repeatedly long creation of false perception to the historic role and significance of the student movement in the eyes of the public.
According to him, LINSU will engage in ending abuses and promoting gender sensitivity, indicating that LINSU will fight against all forms of abuses, especially against students and youth.