Gongloe Chides ‘Govt’s Failure’ To Provide Access to Education

Presidential contender Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe has taken a swipe at the President George Manneh Weah led government for doing little or nothing over the years in its obligation to provide access to education for the citizens compared to past governments who rented private buildings just to provide access to education for most of the children of Liberia when public facilities were not available.

He made the statement last Friday, February 4, 2022 when he delivered the keynote address during the 47th graduation exercises of the Saint Mary Secondary School in Sanniquellie, Nimba County.

Cllr Gongloe said before the civil conflict, the government rented private buildings for the use of public schools such as the Monrovia Central High School (formerly Charlotte Tolbert School), Esther Bacon, Ellen Mills Scarborough, Susan Berry, Ora Horton, amongst others.

He said though the governing party came to power, largely based on the votes of the youth but regrettably has not done much to promote access to education.

While lauding the present regime for declaring free education for students attending government universities and community colleges, it has not taken any significant step to provide access to education for all Liberian children at elementary and secondary school levels.

Gongloe said the first condition for providing access to education is to build more schools, to equip those schools with textbooks, libraries and science laboratories as well as to provide qualified teachers for them.

The President stated in his state of the nation address on Monday, 24 January, that for the year 2021 only one educational project was completed and that project was the construction of an annex to the Wells Hairston High School.

“Available school statistics have it that the total number of senior secondary schools in the country is 752 as of Academic 2020 / 2021, of which, the Government owns only 156”, he said while expressing disappointment for this shortfall of public  schools in the country.

With such a wide gap between the number of schools built by private institutions and those by government, Gongloe went further to say that the government has not taken any step to build more schools, in order to accommodate more Liberian children.

He believes that this poor performance of the President on the education of the Liberian youth is a gross betrayal of his promise of “youth empowerment” as one of the pillars of his campaign and his pro-poor agenda.

“Other Presidents like Paul Kagame of Rwanda; Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana; Adama Barrow of The Gambia, amongst others have done much better in educating the children of their respective countries,” Gongloe listed.

He pointed out that the best comparison between President Weah and any of his colleagues on education is the one between him and one of his next door neighbors, President Maada Bio.

“Bio’s performance on education has been far higher than Weah. Just last year alone, Bio commissioned 100 public schools in Bo, Kenema, Portloko and Bombali. These schools were equipped with libraries, science and computer laboratories, amongst other necessities,” Gongloe said.

Most importantly, he said Bio’s free and compulsory elementary and secondary education covers no fee payment;  but free textbooks, copybooks, pens, pencils, sports equipment, school feeding programmes in government and government assisted schools, amongst others.

Gongloe however indicated that in Liberia, Weah is building more private homes and producing more songs as well as spending more time at his Jamaica Resort and having good times, instead of spending more time at his official office to do the Liberian people’s work.

“The worst area of poor performance of President Weah is in the area of football. This is where the Liberian youth expected him to perform the best but regrettably, under his leadership no serious effort has been made to improve the youth of Liberia’s performance in football,” he lamented.

Liberia has not made it to the African Cup of Nations. Of the four Mano River Union Countries, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast, only Liberia did not make it to the African Cup of Nations. The Gambia of Adama Barrow, a non-footballer made it to the quarter finals of the African Cup.

“Liberia is the only country in the whole of Africa that is headed by a world football superstar. Having failed Liberia in football that he knows best, where else can Weah Succeed? Gongloe asked.

However, he then called on Weah to pay attention to empowering the youth of Liberia because it is a promise he made to the Liberian youth during his campaign and that is why the young people of Liberia voted for him.

“The best and most sustainable way to empower the youth is to educate them. Education must include basic education, vocational and technical education and physical education. This is what Maada Bio of Sierra Leone does for the youth,” Gongloe said.

He urged Weah to learn the good example of Maada Bio, for the little time that he has left to serve Liberia, if he really loves the youth of Liberia.

“If Weah does not take any step to empower the Liberian youth by providing them quality education and improving on the sports and athletics programs for them, then the best thing for them to do is to vote him out of office in 2023,” Gongloe begged.

With that, he then urged Liberians to elect a president who will take concrete steps towards the empowerment of the youth of Liberia through the provision of quality education and comprehensive sports and athletic programmes as the young people of Liberia deserve better.

Gongloe also admonished the graduates that commencement is the beginning of their preparation for life and not the end of their learning process. He told the graduates that those of them who did well in the basic subjects like mathematics, English and science are better prepared for university education and will complete university education with ease.

Gongloe said those of them who completed high school were a great challenge should enroll in vocational and technical schools in order to acquire skills that will prepare them for the job market and self-employment.

“Whatever path you take, whether to a university or a vocational or technical school, each of you must learn well and commit yourselves to building a better Liberia because a better Liberia is possible,” he said.

Gongloe is a 1976 product of the Saint Mary’s Catholic School in Sanniquellie, Nimba County. Thereafter, he enrolled at the University of Liberia in 1977 and completed in 1981. This is Gongloe second time addressing his alma mater the first being in 1987 nearly years 35 now.

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