Liberia’s Education Minister, Prof. D. Ansu Sonii, and his Sierra Leonean counterpart, Prof. Aiah Gbakima, have expressed the need for partnership and collaboration in promoting programs between the two countries in the areas of Technical and Vocation Education (TVET) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics ( STEM ) with support from UNESCO and other partners.
Professor Sonii intimated that Liberia places priority on its TVET programs, emphasising that it will help to provide skills and other job opportunities to school dropouts, those with low academic capacity, and other forms of skills under its TVET programs in both the private and public sectors.
Professor Sonii said with the number of high school dropouts and other members of the population who have left schools but cannot enrol in the universities, the TVET programs will help provide youth skills in the areas of mechanics, construction, carpentry, motor repairs, and electricity, among others that are essential for their livelihood and survival.
Minister Sonii said under the Ministry of Education TVET program along with other higher institutions of learning; Liberia has graduated many students in all of its TVET programs in both the private and public sectors, emphasizing the need for the construction of additional TVET institutions and ensure they are fully equipped and supported financially.
Under its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program, Professor Sonii noted that the Liberian Government places high priority on developing its STEM programs across regions of the country, but noted it would require the assistance of educational partners and other groups.
According to a dispatch from the Liberian Mission in Paris, he said the world has evolved into a place of science and technology, and Liberia needs to ensure that serious efforts are put into place to promote its STEM program.
For his part, Professor Aiah Gbakima of Sierra Leone said his country was making frantic efforts in reviving its TVET to meet the growing needs of the huge non-skilled population of his country.
He said the Education Ministry has worked to ensure the development of a robust TVET policy; development of framework for Public-Private-Partnership, with a view to increasing private sector participation in TVET; expanding access; improving quality of TVET, particularly in areas with high potential for job creation.
The Sierra Leonean Education Minister also spoke of the review and standardizing of curriculum and certification for TVET; developing a National Apprenticeship Scheme that can provide internship for TVET trainees and others; and promoting agriculture-based TVET to enhance food production and food security.
UNESCO Director of Policies and Learning Systems, Borhene Chakroun welcomed the initiatives by the two Mano River Union countries to prioritise and share common fronts in the areas of TVET and STEM education at various levels.