Says PUP; Joins Tuition-free Education Debate
Stating that failure of this tuition-free undergraduate education policy will almost amount to a failure of the administration, the People’s Unification Party (PUP) is seeking additional information from the government regarding the declaration of the tuition-free undergraduate education pronounced by President George Manneh Weah.
The party intone that while it extols the wisdom imbued in the pronouncement of the tuition-free policy for undergraduate universities and colleges in Liberia, it is rather afraid that the policy would be become a farce. The opposition political party observed that “the failure of such declaration would present a terrible image across the state not only about the President and his ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) but even for us within the opposition community as well”.
In an open letter of October 20, 2018 to President Weah, the party said, “However, the party is scary that not until a number of factors are fully satisfied, the sustainability of the policy would become a farce and thereby a disincentive to the administration of President Weah.
The PUP takes full cognizance that as a populist regime, a pronouncement of such by the President has the potentials of improving the rating of the government amongst the growing class of intelligentsia (the student community) and the general population nationwide.
The opposition political institution notwithstanding pointed out that to all intents and purposes, “… the failure of the administration at achieving this populist agenda would send a bad signal sufficient enough only to downgrade the already low rating of political parties across the landscape and to kindle greater apathy amongst our people about politics, voting and government in the future.”
Consequently, the national leadership of the People’s Unification Party is kindly asking the administration and relevant government authorities to provide additional information on this declaration within the context outlined, including additional technical details.
Stating the first reason for the request, the letter Signed by the PUP’s Acting National Chairman, L. Moses Kiyean Kwehai, continued: “We are keen about the technical details surrounding this policy pronouncement; how for example, the government is going to raise the moneys to fully support this project? As it stands, education in Liberia is comparatively the cheapest across the globe. With the minimum fees and tuitions being paid, school administrations continue to decry low support and the ambiance around university campuses continue to be saddled with issues such as unsanitary latrine facilities, inadequate supplies of instructional and learning materials, overcrowding of classes, to name a few, the party outlined.
‘Every reason to wonder how’
The People’s Unification Party, therefore noted that if the government is intervening to wholly take responsibility of the running costs of public institutions of higher learning, there is every reason to wonder how the resources will be generated, particularly when tuitions and fees will no longer be raised to enable the administrations and faculty to properly run their respective systems.
“Let us hasten to indicate that the idea of the state taking full charge of public institutions of higher learning is quite a worthy project and would dovetail into quality learning and quality workforce when all the specifics are worked out and scrupulously put into motion. By the same token, however, if all the necessary resources are not marshaled, jumpstarting the project would be premature and could lend us more trouble than solution within the educational sector,” the PUP reasoned.
The Party stated another reason that if due cautions are not taken, the sector could become more messy and even uncontrollably chaotic and this, unfortunately, could happen as a result of the handling of the sector by this administration.
The PUP expressed further concern that the pronouncement automatically presents floodgates that will witness unprecedented influxes of students at the University of Liberia and all other public institutions of higher learning.
“We are curious to understand whether the administration has thoroughly consider that the institutionalization of this policy shall uncharacteristically pose additional burdens on authorities of universities and colleges in terms of their capacities to handle the overcrowding situations that would accompany this project,” the PUP further wondered.
The party stressed, “If this is not thoroughly checked and adequately balanced with other well-informed policy options, we see chaotic environments inundating the effective operation of this policy which will present a logjam to the implementation, thus undermining the sustainability of the policy and the rating of the administration nationwide.”
Additionally, a third concerned by the party relates to sources from whence the administration will raise the moneys to foot the huge bills associated with this policy. “As it stands, partners of Liberia have predicted that we are likely to experience the worst budget shortfall ever in the history of fiscal governance in Liberia.”
Besides, the PUP indicated that there is no line within the current budget out of which supporting this policy can apply. “Requiring all relevant government functionaries to provide further information to the state on how the administration intends to source funding to support this wonderful program is important. This will be useful at easing the looming suspicions relating to how the policy would be instituted and sustained,” the party said.
“Policy is dead on arrival if…”
Similarly, PUP points to emerging public speculations that the pronouncement was a diversionary tactic to achieve two major objectives: firstly, to capture the attention of and subsequently quiet the growing class of intelligentsia from being critical of the administration. Secondly, there are those who believe that this pronouncement was made by a populist regime to defuse the rising anger and discontentment of the population concerning the missing billions.
“If this is anything serious, then the calculations were quite unfortunate. We can play politics with anything but the growing class of intelligentsia and if this is anything to hold, then the policy is dead on arrival. And, failure of this policy will almost amount to a failure of the administration!
PUP is meantime gratified
In the meantime, the People’s Unification Party commenced its open letter to President Weah with expression of profound gratitude to the government for the recent policy pronouncement committing the Government of Liberia to the operation of free schools at state owned universities and colleges across the country.
The PUP finds the policy declaration not only nationally praise worthy but quite revolutionarily aligned with the rational enhancement of education in particular and the alleviation of illiteracy and poverty across the country in general.
“We believe further that the declaration was well intentioned, thus truly representing a demonstrated characteristic and will of a pro-poor intervention. The PUP is of the strongest conviction that when finally institutionalized and sustained, our fatherland would ignite a struggle that would finally rid Liberia of illiteracy, poverty and disease, thus creating the enabling environment for a well-informed and professionalized workforce to man the civil service of our country.”, the PUP letter said.
“We therefore have every reason to say bravo Mr. President for this great policy that is geared towards ameliorating the hardship on the already impoverished masses of our people and brightening the way for wide scale national enlightenment and intellectual weightiness.”