From Christopher Wiah | GNN Correspondent | Margibi County*
Margibi Senator, J. Emmanuel Nuquay has called for increased allotment to education, as key to enhance national growth and development for Liberia.
Serving as keynote speaker at the twelfth commencement convocation of the Cuttington University in Bong County on Friday, Sen. Nuquay said Liberia’s situation which makes everything a priority, compels national leadership even more than ever before, to go the extra length for education than it has ever done in history.
“On every side, we are preoccupied-whether it is for road connectivity or agriculture or better still, for health care, we are a people in crisis and with the urgency of these challenges, we ought to act fast or it will be too late to redeem our collective future,” Sen. Nuquay said.
“Consequently, the ever-pressing needs for healthcare professionals, mining engineers, agriculturists, teachers and construction workers form a huge part of our job creation discourse and national development policy formulation.”
According to him, the time, resources and efforts attached to education will provide the stimulus needed for national growth and development.
Delivering an address on ‘the importance of tertiary education to national development’, the lawmaker who also heads the senate’s committee on Public Accounts, Expenditure and Audits, stressed there can be no adequate national development drive in the absence of tertiary education.
“The accountants to manage our finances, the engineers we need to build our roads and the nurses and doctors we need when we are sick, are all derived from tertiary education. And this is the reason for which Liberia should keep expanding her tertiary education corridor to prepare tomorrow’s workforce,” he noted.
On whether the country has invested much to tertiary education, Sen. Nuquay highlighted that the country remains challenged, as it is yet to exceed 14% of public spending on education, putting the country at seventh place among countries with the low budgetary allocation for education on the African continent, according to Africa School Africa.
He mentioned the importance of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE)’s campaign to encourage governments of developing countries to allot at least 20% of their national budget to education, which is being championed by the More for Education Coalition in Liberia.
He said with 20% of public expenditure targeting the sector, experts believe that more can be done, to salvage the country’s illiteracy rate.
“Arguably and not to put up a defense for my position as a Senator, I hope as a country we will get there someday,” he said.
As to whether graduates from universities in Liberia are competent to bridge the capacity gaps and are nationalistic enough to contribute to national development, the lawmaker said while there would be a lot of different views, the country is making gains to a larger extent.
He said immediately after the war years, many of the country’s institutions, including those of the government, had a serious capacity challenge, but that in recent years, it is comfortable to report, that Liberians are gradually stepping in.
“We can see the faces of Liberians in the highest places even in the private sector,” he said.
“Recently, during a meeting with the management of Firestone Liberia, I saw the huge presence of Liberians at the senior management level and this is a collective gain for us as a nation.”
He admonished the graduates to be nationalistic, believe in themselves and their ability, set right their priorities, cultivate integrity and values as well as network and build relationships.
“It is with the spirit of nationalism that you will serve with diligence. The hospital you will man as medical professionals, the factories you will build as engineers and the resource management mechanism you will deploy as an economist or an accountant, will all come down to one common Denominator-Liberia and that is when nationalism steps in,” he said.
“If you aren’t nationalistic or cultivating a superior love for country, everything you will do will adversely hurt the country and overturn our collective gains as a people.”