The New Dawn (Monrovia)

27 February 2013

Liberia: Education Ministry Must Be Overhauled

editorial

Though last weekend's cabinet retreat may have been punctuated by the tension between House of Representatives and Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Kpaan, regarding the latter's detention, which could not prevent President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf from expressing her frustration about the performance of some ministries and agencies of government.

So True, Madam President, Education Ministry Must be Completely Overhauled

As usual, some had thought it was the normal "ball game" with the President, but little did they know that her 'cup was filled' with their inflated achievements in terms of their targets and deliverables.

And so, when Deputy Education Minister Mator Kpangbai thought his presentation on behalf of the Ministry would have positive impacted the concern of President Sirleaf, it was the complete opposite as she moved very furiously in her response.

"Now, Education-my thing is Education is a big mess and a need for total overhaul; all those things you've there that's just talk. So, I don't even want to look at those targets y'all gah for education because they're meaningless unless there is a complete overhaul of that ministry," an annoyed Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf blasted authorities of the Education Ministry.

She attributed the insufficient funds, as claimed by the education officials during the cabinet retreat, to the continuous presence of the names of ghost teachers on the ministry's payroll that cannot be straightened up.

Despite the intervention strategy employed by Minister Etmonia Tarpeh in solidarity with her deputy to save the day with regards to 'cleaning the ministry's payroll. The President could not withhold her patience, emphasizing that it was just more than payroll cleaning,, but the entire ministry.

"Wait a minute-where is higher education now?" the Liberian Leader questioned, wondering about the status of higher education in relations to the reforms made in the governance sector.

As a way of buttressing the President's concern, how long will it actually take to resolve the issue of ratifying the payroll? Are the ghost names so glued to the ministry's payroll that even the most effective glue-remover cannot undo it? Why, in fact, would Minister Trapeh, her deputies and others continue to allow this issue of ghost names to portray a negative image of the educational system?

In the minds of all rational Liberians, the issue raised against the Ministry of Education by the President of Liberia is not only indeed genuine, but indicative of the inability of the Education Ministry authorities to properly administer the Liberian educational system.

As the President rightly observed, rhetorics or other inflated impressions have now become the order of administering the fairs of some government ministries and agencies, including the Education Ministry whose dismal performance, despite the presence of all of the technocrats, is evidenced by the declining nature of our education system.

The deliberate lack of regulatory control over private and church schools is also a clear example of the inadequacies characterizing the system. It is no doubt that some officials of the Education Ministry own and run some of these private schools or are even chairpersons and members of their respective boards-that's the embarrassment they face in implementing government's education policy.

Authorities of the ministry could not even live up to their commitment to private and church schools, regarding the provision of a fifty-percent subsidy a year ago when administrators and principals of these institutions decided to inflate tuition and other fees to the disadvantage of those who couldn't afford.

Authorities of the ministry deliberately refused to provide information to the public on the matter, having previously hosted a news conference to announce the fifty-percent subsidy following a major meeting with school administrators and principals.

The issue of facilities/equipment for public schools across the country may just be on "paper" and a lip-service on the part of the ministry, if one took a tour of the various public schools only in Monrovia and its environs-absolutely a complete mess, if the President's description should be borrowed. What is actually going on?

Many had even thought the Minister of Education, her Deputies and Assistant Ministers would have by now resigned upon the lack of confidence expressed in them last Saturday at the cabinet retreat by Madam President, but again.

True to the President's concern, there's an urgent need for the entire Ministry of Education to be overhauled to reflect the unique nature modern day education as it is in countries bordering ours.

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