By Patrick S. Tokpah in Bong County
Hundreds if not thousands of parents of schoolkids in Bong County have all reasons to celebrate as the Government of Liberia and partners over the weekend pledged L$72 million that will be used to settle tuition and fees for their children. 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.
“Whenever you educate a person, you open his or her eyes, makes them wise and self-sufficient,” she revealed.
Also speaking at the ceremonies and contributing to the fund drive was the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill who represented President Dr. George M. Weah and launched the scholarship program. Minister McGill pledged L$10M on behalf of the President.
The office of the first lady of Liberia, Marie Weah, also provided L$3 million, while a Chinese road construction company, CHICO, contributed 1.7 million.
The National Social Security contributed L$3 million, while NASSCORP Managing Director personally contributed L$500,000.
Those who contributed in pledges included SMS, a local business group contributed, which provided L$2 million, the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill and the Minister of Finance Samuel Tweh contributed L$4 million, while the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives office provided L$1million.
Minister McGill announced pledges for a number of organizations, including SSF L$2m, Sethi L$1m, Conex Inc. L$2m, Cico L$1.7m, amongst others.
Also making contribution were Bong County Electoral District#5 Representative Edward Karfiah who pledged L$5m on behalf of his colleagues from the House of Representatives.
He said they were working with the Vice President as well as local leaders and the legislative Caucus of the County to rigorously and transparently to put in place to a measure that will ensure that all of the students benefit from the scholarship.
In special remarks, State for Presidential Affairs Minister McGill told the audience: “Due to the economic conditions in which the parents go through daily and owing to the fact of President Dr. George M. Weah been the President that have love for education, we have decided to help grade-school students in Bong County.”
The Liberian Minister of State for Presidential Affairs he 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.
The move according to the happy beneficiaries mainly the students and parents it is timely, especially in the wake of the current economic challenges facing the nation and its people.
They at same time lauded the CDC government through President Dr. George M. Weah for improving their children lives through education.
The Bong County CDC scholarship students’ parents revealed that since the CDC government took over the leadership of Liberia the narrative of education and infrastructure development has changed, evidence by the free tuition for all public Universities and Colleges and the construction of housing units in the Country.
“What we’re seeing today in our County for a sitting government to provide money for school going kids’ tuition to be pay, we have not seen it in our Country history since 1847,” parents added.