After nearly 155 years since its establishment in 1863, the University of Liberia (UL) has taken its most concrete step toward transitioning from manual to a more advanced digitalized operation.
This means that the UL has begun a digital migration process that will fully integrate the University's registration system, including course planning and scheduling, financial automation and enhanced academic management. Students would no longer have to go through the tiresome and hectic tasks of standing in long queues for hours and sometimes for days, to carry out registration and other formalities.
UL president Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks made the official pronouncement about the move last Thursday, April 5, at a program marking the digitalization of the University of Liberia's registration system.
UL President, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks
The president told a jubilant crowd that comprised of students, faculty, and staff, as well as representatives of the technology sector, that beginning next semester students will now stay anywhere with their mobile phones or computers and register online.
"I am pleased to let you know that a Liberian software company, MWETANA, will provide the services for us," said Dr. Weeks, adding that the project was made possible by President George Weah, a visitor to the University.
The University of Liberia is the 4th oldest university in Africa. It initially opened its doors in 1863 as Liberia College and became a university in 1951.
Dr. Weeks said: "We have had this digitization project on mind as part of our plans, but financial constraints could not allow us to go through easily. We are glad to have finally arrived at this stage because we all know the tough times we all have been through."
President Weah recently gave the UL Administration US$300,000 to complete the process, along with free Wi-Fi internet for students at the main campus.
Since the influx of students at the University, especially in early 2000, the issue of registration has been a very serious problem. This has, on many occasions, led to massive student demonstration nearly every semester.
Thus, the UL Administration contracted local software developer, Mwetana, which means 'moving forward' (in Vai), to help lead the transitional exercise. The software has been developed and will be in use for the next semester, according to both UL and Mwetana authorities.
Mwetana CEO, Vivien C. Jones
"With this, the too much paperwork and long queues have been gotten rid of and we are on the verge of seeing a paperless university," said Mwetana CEO Vivien C. Jones.
He assured the public that Mwetana will work with dedication and commitment to make the project a success. "We cannot afford to fail because if we do, we will be spoiling the image of Liberian companies, especially those in the ICT sector," he said.
Mwetana was established in 2006 by Jones, who has over 30 years of experience in the ICT sector.
He assured the students that the new registration exercises will be easier but they should be willing to accept the change that is coming.
According to the Chairman of the Registration Enhancement Committee, Assistant Prof. Adolphus Nippae, eleven companies were earlier contacted, both locally and internationally, to provide the services.
UL and Mwetana staffs posed for photos
"Mwetana convinced us as a committee. Today, we join the president, Dr. Weeks, to inform you that this company will do our digitization, to solve this old-age problem in this university," he said.
"We have always dreamt of an educational/academic quarter, which is a web-based application that allows the school to have access to online registration," he said.
When asked what the initiative means for students at the University, student Monica Cox said: "This means that the cumbersome registration process--long and tiresome lines/queues and tedious paperwork are things of the past."
UL initially started the digitalization process in 2011 with a local bank that would provide the software service, but it did not work out as planned.
"This also means that digitizing the activities of our university has always been a dream to this day. We are glad to have finally arrived here," Monica said.