LIBERIA: Pres. Sirleaf Harps On Human Development

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has said human development is central to the Agenda for Transformation of her administration.

She said the goal of her government is to improve the quality of life of Liberians, by investing in more accessible and higher quality education, affordable and accessible quality healthcare and social protection for vulnerable citizens, among others.

President Sirleaf made the statement Monday in her ninth State of the Nation address to the 53rd National Legislature at the Capitol Building in Monrovia on the theme, “Consolidating the Processes of Transformation.

According to the Liberia News Agency (LINA), she emphasized that education is the most critical element of government’s development agenda, adding that it is not cheap and it requires sacrifices by parents, students, teachers, leaders and the entire nation.

The President, however, noted that Liberia’s situation was made more difficult by the damage, displacement and cultural mutation of the past, by the special nature of its habitation, by the listless attitude of beneficiaries and by the institutional aversion to change.

Quoting the 2010 Census, the Liberian Leader said the country’s educational system, as currently exists, consists of 2,849 schools, 2,103 of which are public, 343 private, 226 religious and mission schools, and 177 community schools.

Speaking further, President Johnson-Sirleaf asserted that there are five community colleges existing in the country or in pre-operational status in Grand Bassa, Bomi, Bong, Grand Gedeh, Lofa and Nimba Counties.

She added that nine four-year degree-granting institutions, including the University of Liberia (UL) and Tubman University (TU) which are public, two vocational training institutes, including the Booker Washington Institute and the Monrovia Vocational Training Center, are currently operational in Liberia.

According to the President, the UL has a current enrollment of 34,000 students in facilities at both the Capitol Hill and Fendell Campuses; that are most inadequate for the numbers.

President Johnson Sirleaf stressed it is time that Liberians create a more conducive atmosphere for learning consistent with what pertains in other countries by completing the Fendell Campus with all the boarding, housing, academic and sporting facilities that are required.

She disclosed that a survey of the land is nearing completion after which government will start the process of demolishing the structures, most of them illegal, which have prevented the building of a proper university.

The Liberian leader said proposals will be made in the next budget to start the process of full relocation from the politics of Capitol Hill to the knowledge center of Fendell.

President Sirleaf also said TU, with enrollment of 838 for the first semester of the academic year 2013-2014, is gaining the reputation of a quality technical institution, under a no-nonsense administration.

She indicated that the University will hold its first Commencement program in June 2014, noting that more financial support will enable the government to train the professionals needed to enhance national capacity.

The Liberian Chief Executive disclosed that more financial support for Tubman University will be reflected in the next fiscal budget submission.

Meanwhile, the President has said that while the government initiated and promoted the establishment of community colleges, further expansion must now be limited due to the lack of teachers and educational materials that will result in quality education, saying that a shifting to regional community colleges is now under consideration.

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