OVERVIEW OF 2016/2017 ACADEMIC YEAR
BOOKER WASHINGTON INSTITUTE (BWI)
DELIVERED BY HARRIS FOMBA TARNUE, PRINCIPAL & CEO
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 23, 2017
Today marks another milestone in the history of the Booker Taliaferro Washington Agricultural and Industrial Institute Incorporated (BWI). We are today at these ceremonies sending out into the world 25 young men and women from the new National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA) program as our maiden, tested and proven products, plus 310 other young men and women who have completed their four-year academic and vocational and technical education and training. This occasion has been made possible as a result of our joint efforts as partners and stakeholders in the education sector working together to fulfill the mission of this noble institution. That mission is to provide education and training for young people to become middle level technicians and professionals. Since 1929, some 88 years and ongoing, BWI continues to educate and train hundreds and thousands of young people who are contributing meaningfully to development of their society wherever they find themselves. Not only that, BWI is committed to this mission; nevertheless, we are championing a vision of establishing a model center of excellence in Vocational and Technical Education and Training (TVET) as well as turning BWI into a national, regional and global hub for TVET and higher technical and professional training.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, since our last graduation in academic 2015/2016 here on these grounds, much have been achieved in providing a conducive and excellent training and learning environment here at BWI. With support of the Government of Liberia budgetary allocation coupled with increased internal revenue generating capacity and with support of our development partners, we can proudly report that six out of eight of our trade shop buildings have been transformed into excellent learning and training facilities with equipment and tools to engage our students in real practical training experiences. Thank you, Madam President, the Legislature and supporting line ministries and agencies of Government and all our partners in development.
Additionally, since the last academic year, working with our partners, BWI has been able to expand its offering of vocational and technical training as well as modernize our facilities to now include:
- Expanded Solar Energy Technology curriculum in conjunction with Mercy Corps with funding from the EU;
- Expanded Heavy Equipment training in Hydraulics and Auto Electricity implemented by UNIDO with funding from the Government of Japan;
- Expanded Carpentry curriculum and training in rubber wood furniture production being implemented by UNIDO with funding from the Government of Japan;
- Expanded curriculum in Carpentry using IT and modern furniture production methods that will enable BWI produce hundreds and thousands of schools’ furniture for packaging and assembling at site of usage rather than the traditional furniture making wherein only few furniture can be transported to schools at a given time. This project is made possible with partnership of the Latter-Day Saints;
- Improved our library holdings of books as well as modern e-library and internet facilities at our American Corner Kakata library annex with support of the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia;
- Procured sophisticated modern and brand-new equipment and tools for our Biology, Chemistry and Physics laboratories;
- Expanded our Agricultural training to include aquaculture; small ruminants; and soon to introduce our poultry training and commercial production;
- Launched a modern laboratory where Electrical, Electronics and Automotive students will be trained in using all sorts of digital electronics testing and service equipment and tools;
- And launched a new program in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), thus increasing skills sets in the energy sector.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we remain dedicated to transforming this great Liberian mosaic for youth education and training into a true model center of excellence and national hub for technical and professional education and training. However, there is an adage that “To whom much is given, much is expected,” equally put the other way around, “To whom much is expected, much should be given.”
BWI deserves much national support if we should increase access to TVET as well as expand access in terms of adding more modern and contemporary vocations and technical training programs to provide part of the solution for youth employability. In fact, we are now transforming from supply driven TVET training to demand driven training. This scenario requires much investment. Financially and technically speaking, BWI budgetary appropriation has been on a rise and fall trend over the last three fiscal years. GOL budgetary appropriation for FY 2014/15 was US$1.8 million. FY 2015/16 saw a bump of US$3.3 million, but then a dip in FY 2016/17 of US$2.9 million. Now in FY 2017/18 a fall to US$2.3 million. All these are far below the prewar 1980 budget of US$6 million. BWI is set to receive no money for Public Sector Improvement Project or PSIP for 2017/2018. This funding source is critically needed to complete renovation of the remaining two trade shop buildings. Let me call on Madam President again to please intervene to address this gap for BWI.
In the meantime, in order to augment and or supplement Government funding and other support, we have established the BWI Consultancy Service. Today, BWI is more than just an education and training institution. Our consultancy services include providing outreach support for community development and meeting the needs of clients in such areas as agricultural extension services, training workshops for farmers, repair of electric power generators; repair and servicing of motor vehicles using modern diagnosis equipment and tools; renting of excavators with assigned operators; design and construction of buildings; designing and manufacturing of school and residential furniture; outstation team for installation, repair and servicing of AC and refrigeration equipment, and Electric Motor Rewinding. Our Machinery and Mechanical Department can fabricate all sizes and design of metal works, manufacture incinerator for medical waste disposal, manufacture flour mixer and kneading machines, farina or gari production machines; weeding and post-harvest equipment and basic tools; construct metal canopy; metal bump beds; fabricate gears for different motors. We also provide training and advice on agricultural related projects, i.e. rubber farm advisory services, vegetable production, fishery, animal husbandry (piggery, small ruminants, cattle, poultry); designing and conducting management services training in areas such as Financial Management, Procurement Management, Warehousing, Facility Management, etc. Additionally, we design and deliver customized technical and management related training for clients. We also rent facilities with state-of-the art equipment, AC, projectors, screens, and flip chart stands appropriate for workshops and conferences. Our dormitory facilities are also available for workshops accommodation during vacation breaks. Support BWI to provide quality, effective, efficient and money’s worth service in order to help sustain the Institute.
Hon. Chairman and Members of the Board of Governors, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, academic 2016/2017 was a bumpy school year with regards to overall performance of our students. While we are glad to announce slight improvement of 2016/17 over 2015/16, we are not very happy with the overall result. For example, last year we made a 35 percent passing rate in the 2015/16 WAEC result. However, we moved to a 60 percent passing rate this academic year 2016/17. This is not satisfactory for our new standard. We can, we must and we will do better, as we work for the best yet to come. Our greatest challenge remains high indiscipline among students as well as some level of unprofessionalism among our teaching staff. Last year we dismissed one instructor for a scandal involving flexible fees for the WAEC exam, which situation led to mass failure of students. There is an ongoing investigation into some instructors tempering with students’ grades under the guise of change of grades. We vow to continuously wrestle with these maladies till BWI becomes a zero-impunity zone. Here is a glimpse of statistics for performance of students in the Regular Four-Year Academic and TVET Program:
Complete Pass ……………………………………………………….794
Vacation School (One Subject Failure) ………………………186
Complete Failure …………………………………………………….96
Dropped Out …………………………………………………………..51
Never to Return (NTR) ………………………………………….…105
Ladies and gentlemen, graduation exercises for academic 2017 bring a new flavor to the category of graduates we are putting out today. After three years of piloting a program designed to train a new breed of technocrats in agriculture based on a new curriculum with regional bench-marked contents, we are highly gratified on these occasions to graduate 25 students from our National Diploma Program (NDA) in Agriculture. All 25 young men and women have successfully met requirements for the award of the National Diploma in Agriculture. Technically, the NDA is an equivalent of an Associate Degree in Agriculture. Accordingly, we are in serious engagement with relevant authorities at higher institutions of learning to soon review the NDA curriculum with the view of integrating and or harmonizing it into the BSc Curriculum in Agriculture. Sooner than later, BWI will begin offering AA, and gradually bachelor degrees in Agriculture and various vocational and technical fields of studies. This is part of our strategic priorities for leadership at BWI.
Hon. Chairman and Members of the Board of Governors, Hon. Guest Speaker, distinguished parents, ladies and gentlemen, we now present a summary of statistics indicating students’ performance for academic 2016/17, beginning with the National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA) Program:
|Total Graduates Males Females|
|25 22 3|
Regular Four-Year Secondary and TVET Program:
|Department Male Female Total|
|Agriculture 31 8 39|
|Automotive 33 1 34|
|Accounting 20 10 30|
|Secretarial Science 7 16 23|
|Domestic Science 1 14 15|
|Drafting 14 3 17|
|Carpentry 9 0 9|
|Masonry 31 1 32|
|Plumbing 33 7 40|
|Electrical 31 2 33|
|Electronics 23 3 26|
|Machinery 12 0 12|
Without much ado, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, permit me to extend profound thanks and appreciation to all of you to include our committed Chairman and Members of the Board of Governors, colleagues in our administration, faculty, general staff and all employees, education stakeholders, our partners in development, alumni communities at home and at broad, the President and Government of the Republic of Liberia, for all you continue to do for our Alma Mater, Dear Booker T., whose light will forever shine in our hearts and homes. I thank you.