The George Weah administration has been weightlifting varying national development projects, including particularly in the education sector where it has successfully made a number of first-time breakthroughs. Amongst those breakthroughs are free tuition for public universities and colleges, free WASSCE for high school students and electronic registration regime at the University of Liberia. Another first-time breakthrough is now in the making—raising funds to assist indigent students of both private and public schools with financial and/or tuition aid. Last weekend, the government and its partners broke grounds for the initiative in Gbarnga, Bong County, where it raised over L$72 million. Now it seems the government is taking the tuition or financial aid campaign for a national campaign to benefit the suffering grade-school students all over the country. The Analyst reports.
The Government of Liberia stepped up its plan to provide quality education accessible to a greater portion of the school going population in the country when she along with her along partners launched the maiden edition of the Tuition Aid Program in Gbarnga, Bong County to assist needy students in the county.
At the well packed and attended program held at the Bismarck Kuyon Township Stadium, Vice President Mrs. Jewel Howard Taylor told the audience that she was happy that the initiative which will go nationwide starts with Bong County, the county which she said recorded her in history as a senator and then as the first female vice president in country.
She said since her tenure as Senator, she has always prioritized education because “when you educate a person, you open his or her eyes, make him or her wise and self-sufficient.”
The program which was initially billed to generate L$30 million to support the cause of paying tuition and other fees for students below the tertiary level ended up gulfing L$72 million in pledges, more than what was first envisaged.
The highest individual contribution came from President George Manneh Weah with L$10 million as was announced by his Chief of Office Staff and Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Nathaniel McGill. The amount was followed by VP Taylor with an initial amount of LD5m. The First Lady, Mrs. Clar Marie Weah also contributed to L$3 Million, among others.
The program once taken effect in all the 15 counties, will go as another milestone achievement of the CDC led government in the area of education, since its ascendency in power.
The government recently legislated formally the free tuition scheme in public tertiary institutions and payment of WASSCE fees for 12th and 9th grade students in the country.
Stakeholders in the education sector spoke to paint a bright future for human capital development in the country, especially for the serious but financially challenged students. They said it will also relieve the parents of the huge burden of supporting and keeping their children in school.
A principal of one of the several public schools in Bong County who did not want to be identified said this gesture, if properly executed and managed, will just be the game changer that Liberia needs right now to address the high rate of students dropping from schools due to the lack of money.
“We are in for a good season, a good time when parents and students will need not to worry again because of lack of money to attend schools. We just pray that the usual corrupt Liberian syndrome does not enter this unique project to dash the hope of the people”, the veteran educator said.
Recently, the Government of Liberia Launched a Scholarship for School kids scheme in Bong where L$72 million was raised in Pledges. The scholarship fund-drive under the auspices of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is a tuition aid to children whose parents are indigent and badly need assistance to keep their children in school.
The fund raising ceremony attracted a horde of government officials and private dignitaries who pledged millions of Liberian dollars to contribute to the effort.
Accordingly, the fund drive was initially meant to raise L$30m for scholarship in support of 7 to 12 grade students in Gbarnga, Bong County but by the time pledges were collated, a whopping L$72 million was collected.
Giving the overview of the Bong County CDC Scholarship program on April 3, 2021, Electoral District#3 Representative J. Marvin Cole said the funds were intended as students’ tuition and financial aid program for the target students.
He revealed that the tuition aid is held under the nomenclature ‘CDC Bong County Students Tuition Aid Program’.
Representative Cole who is the ruling CDC Bong County Chapter Chair said the students’ tuition aid program will go a long way in mitigating difficulties parents face in the County in paying their child or children school fees.
Amongst dignitaries who attended and pledged cash in support of the effort was Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor who described education as her heart beat.
At the overcrowded David Kuyon Sports Stadium in Gbarnga, where the program was held, the Vice President pledged to contribute L$5M to the fund drive.
She encouraged the students to take advantage of the initiative and remain in school, noting that when they are educated they can help become better future leaders and contribute to rebuilding process of the Country.
The Liberian first female Vice President thanked President Dr. George Weah for leading said process nationwide, emphasizing that education has always been her priority dating back as a Senator of Bong County.
The Liberian Minister of State for Presidential Affairs was of the strongest conviction that the initiative will go across in Liberia.
Moreover, a former talk show host of Radio Gbarnga and now talk show host of OK FM in Monrovia, journalist Clarence Jackson, pledged L$15 thousand as his only way of contributing to the initiative in the County.
Over 72 million Liberian Dollars was raised instead of the targeted $LD 30m.
At the end of the program, the happy beneficiaries, students and parents dance as a sing of appreciation for a great relief to them in the County.