Liberia and the United States have agreed to visit existing policies in the Education Sector of the country and bring necessary changes to enable Liberians to compete academically and technically with other countries of the world.
The understanding was reached yesterday, March 4, following hours of discussion during the US-Liberia partnership dialogue meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia.
The partnership dialogue between Liberia and the United States came into force in 2013, when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and US former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton signed the memorandum of understanding.
According to the agreement reached, working groups of the two countries recognized that human development was important to Liberia’s economic, social, and political development.
The statement read: “In recognition of the importance of Human Development in improving and expanding the human condition, Liberia and the United States reviewed and discussed potential reforms within the sector with the goal of addressing existing policy challenges, as well as actions already taken to ensure improvement.
The two governments affirmed the importance of Education to Liberia’s economic, social, and political development. Accordingly, the United States affirmed strong support for a number of measures to help Liberia address institutional and policy issues in the education sector, and to address other key human development issues vital to the sustenance of economic growth and national recovery.”
Acknowledging that Liberia’s ability to compete in the regional and global knowledge-based economy depends significantly on improving the quality of education in the country, the two countries agreed to exert greater efforts to connect private educational institutions, universities, foundations and companies from their respective countries to invest responsibly in Liberia’s human development sector.
According to the statement, the investment includes reinstitution and, or resumption of important U.S. Government educational programs in Liberia, taking into consideration the Fulbright Scholarship Program which many Liberians benefited from in the past.
The United States of America already has a Peace Corp program in Liberia that allows citizens of that western country to come to the country to help rural schools teach students.
In his opening statement, Foreign Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan indicated that human development and education in improving and expanding the quality of the human condition cannot be over emphasized.
“Reforms are needed to address existing policy challenges and retool the sector to improve the quality of education that enhances the human capacity and supply quality input to ever-expanding markets.
We must however remain equally mindful of the need for fresh investments in the sector to reduce the high rate of functional illiteracy, reduce the rate of school dropout, improve research in the sciences and engineering, as well as strengthen our universities and institutions of higher learning, especially those at the frontline of meeting the demands of the labor market,” Minister Ngafuan said.
In his statement during the opening session of the dialogue, United States head of delegation, Ambassador Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. said the second phase of the dialogue in
Monrovia is bringing education for the first time considering the challenges in the country.
He said that though Liberia has made a tremendous effort since the civil crisis ended 2003, study has shown that vocation technical skills and quality academic education are essential to the growth and development of the country, and that bringing it on board to form a part of the dialogue was in the right direction to post-war recovery of Liberia.
Ambassador Shannon noted that human development was about improving people’s quality of life, and it touches a wide range of issues ranging from health-care to education to employment opportunities.
The partnership dialogue working groups comprise government officials and heads of institutions from three major sectors including Education, Energy, and Agriculture.
The Education sector was highly represented at the dialogue by key Liberian educators including Minister Etmonia David Tarpeh, University of Liberia president Dr. Emmet A. Dennis and lieutenants, Director of National Commission on Higher Education, Dr. Michael Slawon and his commissioners, and former Education Minister and Vice President of the United Methodist University, Dr. Evelyn Kandakai, amongst others.