On Wednesday, October 23, 2019, the Youth Coalition for Education of Liberia (YOCEL) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative (LAVI), concluded a daylong conference on stakeholders’ buy-in and support for minimum 20 percent of the national budget towards the education sector.
The conference intends to identify an alternative domestic resource mobilization to increase financing for the country. It was held in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to improve the country’s education sector.
A YOCEL representative, Matthew S. Karley, said the gathering was to allow the participants reflect on the gains made in the education sector for the last seven years.
Karley said despite the gains, Liberians should continue to put all ideas on the table that would sustain those incremental steps being made both by government and other international partners, as well as their advocacy role played thus far.
He said that the initiative was to reaffirm partners’ commitment with a concrete action on government compliance to regional, sub-regional, and global instruments that mandate state parties and government to allocate 20 percent minimum of their gross domestic products (GDP) towards education that is in line with the Dakar, Senegal, framework of the 2015 Incheon Declaration.
At the Dakar Declaration, the World Education Forum (26-28 April 2000, Dakar) adopted the Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting our Collective Commitments. In doing so, its participants reaffirmed the vision of the World Declaration on Education for All adopted ten years earlier.
USAID Liberia Education Officer, Rasheena Harris Reid, said Liberia is still rebuilding its education system that was destroyed by the 14 years civil crisis (1989-2003), “because trained teachers are in short supply and there is a dearth of adequate school facilities and basic supplies.”
Madam Reid added that even where the facilities and capacity do exist, students and those funding their education continue to struggle to meet tuition and other basic costs in an economy that continues to breed depressed incomes.
The USIAD’s education programs are designed to help tackle these challenges by, among other things, putting emphasis on improving the quality of teaching and learning, especially in early grade Reading and Mathematics, and increasing equitable access to learning opportunities for girls and youth, who missed out on education due to the country’s civil crisis.
Shortly after the event, Senator Dallas Gueh, Chairperson on Education Committee, told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview that Liberia, being a signatory to an international agreement that calls for at least 20 percent of her national budget, those signatories to the convention must adhere to to the agreement.
Unfortunately, Gueh said Liberia has not been able to reach the benchmark.
He described the conference as “good” because it was for the betterment of the young people.
“One key challenge we always have in this sector is lack of political will to implement what we as policymakers have written. I am therefore deeply frustrated when Liberians develop policy without implementation,” Senator Gueh said.
“As the chair on education at the senate, I will lobby with my colleagues to ensure that what is required in the education sector is implemented to ensure that the sector gets the 20% of the national budget,” he said.