Monrovia — The University of Liberia (UL) and the World Bank on Thursday dedicated a modern accounting computer laboratory on the UL's main campus on Capitol Hill. The lab is the first phase in revamping the curriculum and programs of the accounting department of the college of business and public administration.
It will also enable accounting instructors attend a faculty exchange program at the University of Michigan in the United States of America. The lab, which takes 25 students at a time, has an internet, intranet and a shared drive in an air conditioned room in the Tubman Hall building.
Alex Cuffy, who worked as the Governance Economic Management Assistance Program (Gemap) financial controller at the Roberts international airport for more than five years, is spearheading the reforms.
"This project is called strengthening accountancy. It is geared towards enhancing the way we teach accounting at the University of Liberia and it started couple of years ago.
"It is a result of all the different international interventions that have been
made in Liberia, which includes the Gemap and all the things that came out of that and the World Bank got involved to conduct what we called the ROSCs [report on observance of standards in codes] review.
"As you know, we had issues of financial management in the country. And so there were some interventions that started in collaboration with the government of Liberia and the international contact groups on Liberia [ICGL] that included the World Bank, which brought in Gemap," Cuffy explained.
With the realization that those interventions were short term, according to Cuffy, a sustainable focus, such as capacity building, was soon envisaged.
"So they had to look at the schools. And the University of Liberia being the only government-owned institution [of higher learning]; it was the ideal place to start this program.
"Again this is part of the process to enhance financial management, both human and institutional capabilities, in Liberia. So the World Bank had meetings with the university's authorities, staring from our former chairman, Mr. Sam Dahn, and it went to Mr. Foday Kamara and now we have an interim management team.
"It continued through the hard work of Dean Geegbae A. Geegbae as well as administrators of the school going as far as the provost and the university's president [Dr. Emmet Dennis] and working hard with Mr. Maxwell Dapaah of the World Bank, who worked hard and then at some point, some of us came in to continue the process," Cuffy elaborated.
The former Gemap expert first went to Michigan to initiate the two-year partnership and faculty exchange program.
His second visit witnessed the exposure of five UL accounting instructors various training workshops, auditing of classes and an interaction with various professors.
"We selected the University of Michigan on a twining program, which is going to provide some training, some workshops as well as the exchange of faculty between the two universities' accounting departments.
"It also involves buying computer equipment for the instructors and also revamping our curriculum. By the end of this project, sometime next year, we will have a new set of curriculum, which will be internationally acclaimed to include the ability for students to take certified exams.
"It will also include other things. One of the items that is included is the computer laboratory. That is why we are here today. Also, it will include textbooks for instructors and students," Cuffy highlighted.
It is a three-year project, which is being financed by the World Bank under ROCSs Review, with emphasis in accounting and auditing.
With a year spent on procurement and the expiration put at June 2015, Maxwell Dapaah, World Bank senior financial management specialist and task team leader of the strengthening accounting project was elated to have seen the dedication of one of the deliverables.
"I must say that the inauguration of this computer lab has been long in the waiting. So, as the task team leader of the project, I am extremely excited that this has been crystallized. Am sure the team will attest that we have been working on this for some time now.
"This was a pioneering initiative in a sense because most of the institutional development support that we have given in other countries doesn't specifically focus on universities.
"We will usually support an accountancy institute such as LICPA [Liberia Institute of Certified Public Accountants]. We will typically support the supreme audit institution such as GAC [General Auditing Commission] or revenue organization.
"So this was, in a way, very pioneering. And I am so happy that went the idea came back to the university for consideration, the president of the university and the leadership of the university, actually embraced it and made sure that the idea was actually to be what it was intended to be," Dapaah said.
He added that the lab's inauguration was just the beginning of better things to come to the university.
UL vice president for institutional development & interim vice president for academic affairs Dr. Walter Wiles, who cut the ribbon to the lab, hoped the lab will spur a new era of learning for the students.
"With this computer lab, I hope our students will begin a new period of learning and bring the University of Liberia to the level that it should. Congratulations for the assignment," Wiles said.
The project could see the introduction of power point presentation during class lectures.