The Inquirer (Monrovia)

20 March 2013

Liberia: 'People Are Interested in Degrees, Not Education' - Says Pres. Sirleaf

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has said people are interested in acquiring college degrees but not education that would build their self esteem. The Liberian leader said as a result of this behavior, some of the graduates coming out of Liberia's various universities after acquiring a degree cannot write a letter, saying "this is a serious issue that must be addressed at all level."

Speaking on a radio talk show dubbed "Conversation with the President" yesterday, President Sirleaf said the country's education is such that all must put together to correct the ills that are impeding the smooth learning process.

She advised that students who pay teachers for grades are doing injustice to themselves because after graduating, they would have nothing to contribute especially when the opportunity for a job comes their way.

Equally, the President noted that teachers who are taking or soliciting bribes from students are ruining their career, saying, "bribery is a crime in our country and the giver and the receiver are to be held for violating the law."

Touching on benefits for teachers, President Sirleaf noted that when her administration came into office, teachers were earning US$15 to US$20. She proudly said her administration has increased teachers' salaries up to US$100 while those with Bachelor or Master Degrees get far more than that.

On assigned public school teachers' complaint that they have not taken pay since graduation from the Zorzor Rural Teacher Training Institute (ZRTTI) in 2012, President Sirleaf said the Minister of education was listening and taking note to deal with the situation.

She said the Government of Liberia is doing everything to deal with the issue of lack of laboratory materials at the University of Liberia and frowned on marketers taking over campuses noting that such places should be conducive for learning.

The Liberian leader said there will not be a change without sacrifice and promised to make changes in the educational sector as far as the level of County or District Education Officers. "We will make changes but when you do people come around with their placards. We will read those placards and implement the changes necessary," the President stated.

The President also promised to address the issue of lack of libraries to foster the learning process of Liberian children and others.

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