The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched its second employers’ forum on Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development (EHELD) Project in Monrovia.
The program was held at the Cape Hotel in Mamba Point, Central Monrovia, and brought together employers from the public, academic, and cooperate sectors.
The Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development (EHELD) Project aims to equip young Liberian women and men for their future roles as leaders and entrepreneurs in two critical sectors in Liberia’s development; agriculture and engineering.
A five-year project funded with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), implemented by RTI International and the EHELD project, would work with Liberia’s two leading universities, Cuttington University and the University of Liberia, to create Centers of Excellence (CoEs) with improved teaching curricula, facilities, and best practice teaching methodologies.
Simultaneously, the project would attract young Liberians to these fields through innovative programs in CoEs intended to motivate them and better prepare them to succeed. EHELD would also initiate to create linkages between students and employers for hands-on work experience and tangible long-term employment opportunities.
Through the project, two CoE’s would be created in agriculture at Cuttington University and engineering at the University of Liberia. These CoE’s would serve as models in Liberian higher education, by equipping students with the knowledge and skills to meet current and future workforce requirements in the private, public, and nongovernmental organization sectors.
Speaking at the launch ceremony, US Ambassador, Deborah Malac said, “Over the last decade, Liberia has made great progress in restoring peace and establishing strong foundations for economic growth and development.”
She said in order for this progress to be sustained, it is critical to create more opportunities for Liberia’s youth to find good jobs that allow them to contribute to building their country’s future.
The Ambassador noted that every Liberian has roles and responsibilities in helping to create those opportunities.
She noted that since Liberia Singed the Ghana Peace Accord, the United States Government has launched a wide range of assistance programs intended to help Liberia achieve its short and long-term development goals.
One of these initiatives she said is the Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development (EHELD) project, which was funded and supervised by USAID.
“In the United States, we believe that working closely with prospective employers in the private sector, civil society, and government is critical to making sure that Liberian youth develop the knowledge and skills they need to be productive contributors to Liberia’s development. Of course, once the workforce needs are identified, the government of Liberia’s key ministries and agencies in the education sector along with parents, teachers, and Liberia’s international partners, need to step up and help young people develop their talents and skills’, she said.
“Most importantly,” she said, “the youth themselves need to dedicate themselves and work hard to take advantage of the opportunities that are made available to them.”
The US Ambassador to Liberia stated that one of EHELD’s central goals is to increase the number of qualified graduates coming into the Liberian workforce with degrees in agriculture and engineering.
“We recognize that Liberia’s respect for continued development rest with rebuilding the infrastructure that was destroyed during the war and with making agriculture more commercially viable. To advance these goals, EHELD is helping to create centers of Excellence at the Cuttington University for agriculture and at the University of Liberia for engineering,” she explained.
She added that in 2012, the project worked with the universities and other partners, including Liberian employers, to revise the engineering and agriculture curricula.
“With EHELD’s support, these revised curricula have been adopted and faculties have been brought in from the United States and Africa to help teach them. In addition, EHELD is working with high schools to attract some of the country’s most promising youth, especially women, to pursue professional careers in the fields of agriculture and engineering,” Amb. Malac declared.