Education Minister Recruiting own Deputies, Assistant Ministers -Lofans Dominating the list

MONROVIA: Amidst the controversies that have thrilled the appointment made by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai which bordered alleged nepotism, incompetence and outright sales of government jobs to the highest bidders, something strange and surprising to the general public is the mandate given to some Ministers and other heads of autonomous agencies to recruit their senior management staff including deputy and assistant ministers, deputy directors, procurement officers, Human resources directors, etc.

One of such “luckiest” persons that is said to have been given the absolute power to recruit her subordinate staff is the newly appointed Minister of Education, Dr. Jarso Jallah Saygbe. Dr. Saygbe, according to our inside source at the Ministry of Education, has been busy single handedly accepting and screening individuals to fill the positions for three Deputy Ministers, 8 Assistant ministers, 8 departmental heads, and other senior management staff at the Ministry.

Some senior staff members at the Ministry who were said to have been snubbed from being considered for possible recommendation to President Boakai for presidential appointments are now being penciled down to either be transferred to some leeward counties as District Education Officers(DEO) or to other lesser departments.

“This is strange for a President to outsource recruitment of senior management staff to an incoming minister especially if the said Minister knows nothing about the running of the ministry or the entire education sector of the country.

“What makes the entire process sad is Dr. Saygbe knows nothing about the sector, she is a stranger and it was unfortunate that such a task is given her to come and further compound the problems in the sector”, a senior staffer at the Ministry said.

As it stands, Dr. Saygbe has been asked to recruit and recommend for presidential appointment 3 deputy ministerial positions, the Deputy Minister for Administration, another one for Planning, Research and Development and the third for Instruction.

The 8 Assistant ministers are for Early childhood, Basic and Secondary Education, Teachers Education, TVET, Inclusive Education and Special Education, and Student Personnel Services.

The breakdown of the organizational structure at the Ministry shows that the Department of Administration has two bureaus, the HR and Fiscal Affairs and General administration while the Department of Planning, Research and Development has only one and the largest bureaus, five in number fall under the Department of Instructions and include TVET, Early education, Teachers education, among others.

Besides the Minister proper, there are 11 ministers of which 3 are deputy ministers and 8 assistant ministers. That means the new minister has been given the mandate to find those to fill in the positions and other senior management positions that will carry on the president’s vision for education for the next 6 years.

What is disturbing in addition to the defects of giving the Minister power to be the sole person to bring in principal officers, is the fact that she is placing higher premiums on people from native Lofa County.

According to a source who had picked his chance to reach out to “Madam’s boys” if he could be considered for an assistant ministerial position, “almost all the positions have gone and majority of those who succeeded are from Lofa County”

Besides the Lofa factor, there are reports that Dr. Saygbe is further compounding the problem by bringing in people who have no knowledge in education or stake in the sector.

“We will have to contend with this Lofa thing, but we should not lose sight of the fact that the Minister is bringing people from outside of the sector completely. There are facts that 3 deputy ministers are not from the sector; there is an assistant minister who is a mere caterer while the other one runs an airline and the list continues”, said Davidson Daniels III, a social critic told The Analyst last night.

Boakai’s “outsourcing” decision could be counterproductive.

Stakeholders in the education sector are not impressed with the decision of the President to mandate the minister to recruit her own team as “it may backfire very soon”. One of the stakeholders, Sam Quiatoe Ben Sr said he was not convinced if the President adequately discussed his vision for education to the new minister and wondered what must influenced him to “to take such a big gamble on this very important position”

During his inauguration, President Boakai laid down his blueprint for education when he called on the citizens to rally around the cause so as to change the developmental agenda of the country.

Education is essential to our development, but we believe that in its current state, it offers less of the bold actions needed to transform the country. We must begin to rethink and retool how we address the challenges of our educational system in ways that best serve our developmental needs. In this direction, and for the development outcomes we desire under the ARREST agenda, we will invest in vocational training and science education to support the required workforce development essential to providing jobs, increasing productivity, and improving the quality of life of our people.

“That investment will also build the capacity of Liberians to compete in a globalized workplace and leverage technology for entrepreneurship. As we also begin to think about evolving a knowledge-based economy, we will continue to invest in technological training and IT programs”, President Boakai said.

While others have been expressing their disappointment with the President for allowing Dr. Saygbe to have the sweeping power to bring in her own team, others also have taken deeper look of her background and came up with a verdict that she is not the caliber of persons that could be considered to drive the national education agenda of the government.

“It is sad that when we have all raised our hope that this sector is going to be prioritized, the decision to give the Minister a sweeping power to recruit people of her own choice will be counterproductive. She has been involved in the sector in the country; you cannot find any scholarly work about her on education so where did the President get her from to be appointed to such a high position in the country”, a stakeholder who did not want to be named in the papers said.

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