Gongloe Decries Low Support to Education -Says Education is key to National Development

MONROVIA: A leading human rights lawyer, Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe has taken a swipe at the Government of Liberia for doing little to address the dwindling fortune of the country’s education sector despite the fact that education is the surest avenue to ensure national development in any country.

Delivering the Keynote address at the Living Bread Pentecostal School on Sunday, January 23, 2022, on the topic, Education: the Best Road to a Better Liberia, Cllr. Gongloe said it is the responsibility of government to educate its citizens and drew attention of the audience to Article 6 of the constitution which guarantees the right of citizen to education,  quoting as saying “The Republic shall, because of the vital role assigned to the individual citizen under this Constitution for the social, economic and political well-being of Liberia, provide equal access to educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens to the extent of available resources. Emphasis shall be placed on the mass education of the Liberian people and the elimination of illiteracy.”

He said the understanding of provision in the constitution is that the government is under a constitutional obligation to make sure that all children of Liberia should have the chance to go school and must have the same facilities.  “The worst thing that is happening to Liberian children today is that the government is not building new elementary, junior high and high schools in Monrovia, Paynesville and other parts of Liberia. Yet, the populations of Monrovia and Paynesville have grown far beyond their pre-war population”, he said

He lamented the disappearance of some public schools that existed during the pre-war era but unfortunately there has not been replacement to cushion the effect of the rise in the population of school going children throughout the country. He named some of the public schools as Ellen Mills- Scarboro, Susan Berry School, the Monrovia Central High School, and others, stressing that sadly the government has not been able to build more new schools in the country denying the young people the opportunities to a better future

“During school hours, children are seen in the streets selling, or playing in their communities or on the beaches when they should be in school. Government has to do better than it is doing in the area of education. In today’s world, all the countries that are making social and economic progress are countries that have invested in the education of their children. Countries like Ghana, Lesotho and Botswana, amongst others are making progress economically and socially because of their investment in education”

The Presidential contender said that in comparative terms, other governments in the Mano River Union countries are doing better than the Liberian Government in spending on the education of their children where according to him in 2020, the Government of Sierra Leone, next door to Liberia, spent 34.4% on education; the Government of Guinea spent 12.3 percent on education, while the Government of Liberia spent just 2.3 % on education, adding that This is disappointing, to say the least.

“The Government of Liberia has to do better, if Liberia must get out of poverty. Liberia will remain poor and underdeveloped, if the government of Liberia does not pay special attention to the education of Liberian children. In fact the Liberian Government is promoting ignorance by not building new schools and not re-opening the schools that have been closed since the Liberian conflict. Ignorance is an enemy of national progress”

“In order to get educated one must go to a formal school, through a well-organized academic program that starts from preschool, to kindergarten, elementary school, Junior high school, High School and university to obtain a degree or technical or vocational training to get a certificate. Yet there is another form of learning that comes, mostly, in the family, with children learning skills from their parents and relatives. A boy, for example, may learn from his father or uncle who is a blacksmith or wood carver by helping his father or uncle every day. This is referred to as learning by apprenticeship or by experience”, He said.

Cllr Gongloe averred that every endeavor embarked upon by any one and expects results must be learned and must be gradually acquired overtime from experience and used President Weah as example whose footballing career was spurred on by the practice and training he garnered overtime but lost track of his he knew best when according to him he was deceived by people to go into politics when he has got no experience.

“Our current President of Liberia, for example, started playing football in his community, and then he played football in his school and then played in the local football clubs and the national football team of Liberia before he moved on to play international football,  beginning with Tonnerre Yaounde,  in Cameroon.  Yet our president allowed some greedy Liberians to convince him to take on a task of carrying a load that he had not learned to carry. They argued that because he had Liberia at heart, he could lead Liberia better than any politician. Today, the story has changed. It is clear that he cannot carry the load of leading Liberia. There is no way for a person to carry a load that he does not have the strength for”

Cllr. Gongloe told the audience that while calling on the Government of Liberia to build more schools, he is aware that the CDC government is unable and has no intention to build more and better schools because of corruption. He noted that most people at the top level of the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Liberian Government steal from the citizens in order to build large private homes.

“The situation is such that the Republic of Liberia and a majority of the people of Liberia are getting poorer, while their leaders in government are getting richer and paying very little attention to education. Therefore, Liberian children will increasingly remain illiterate and ignorant. It is no secret that the more ignorant people are the poorer they become. Given the current situation in Liberia, it is safe to conclude that the pro-poor agenda of the CDC Government is to make Liberians poorer, than to free them from poverty. Today, the suffering in the country is just too much. While parents are becoming poorer and poorer every day, the government is allowing private schools to increase school fees because of little or no subsidy from government to private schools. Then there are other fees such as graduation fee, amongst others, when in fact the Minister of Education and many of us who went to school under other governments did not pay any fee called graduation fee, in order to graduate from high schools and universities”

Continuing he said, “The hardship in this country has just become unbearable for most parents in this country. And instead sitting in his office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in order to find ways to do something about it, President Weah spends his time at his Jamaica Resort studio producing one song after the other and competing with the young people of Liberia over trophies in playing sports. He has proven that he is an excellent entertainer and not an excellent head of government of a country that urgently needs recovery, reconstruction and sustained social and economic development. The situation is very sad for our country”.

In his parting words for the graduates, Cllr. Gongloe told them that the graduation from high school should mark the beginning of their learning and should not be the end. “Today, all of you graduates are now prepared to take the next step in preparation for serving Liberia. Some of you may be fortunate to enter universities in Liberia or out of Liberia to become nurses, doctors, lawyers, accountants, pastors, etc. Yet some of you may decide to enter vocational and technical schools and become technicians. Whatever you decide to do after today, do not take your graduation from high school to be the end of learning. Today is the beginning of learning for a better life. This is why this program is called a commencement program. It is just the beginning. Prepare yourselves for a better Liberia, because there cannot be a better Liberia without educated citizens”.

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