Minister Vows to Transform “Messy Education Sector” -Promises to be “Minister on the Field”

MONROVIA: With just few days in office and coming in contact with the reality about the “messy education sector”, the Minister of Education, Dr. Jesor Jallah Saygbe has vowed to work towards transforming the “sector which has no reason to go through this deplorable state by placing high premium on key areas that will drive the necessary changes needed including ‘catering to the welfare of teachers, providing incentives for rural teachers, placing emphasis on TVET education and early childhood education, building new structures, encouraging government to spend more money on education and forging greater cooperation and partnership with our development partners”, just as  she literally wept when she saw the conditions students are learning at some centers.

The new Minister of Education made the assertion on Monday, March 19, 2024, on the campus of the Zwedru Multilateral where the Minister had flagged up the her maiden Nationwide Assessment tour with the aim of evaluating schools and implementing timely interventions to address challenges in the education sector with focus on assessing various institutions built by the Government of Liberia to devise intervention strategies and improvements.

“I am deeply touched by what I saw our children going through learning under such conditions. Before entering Grand Gedeh County, I stopped at a school in the last town in Nimba County and I could not believe that children in 5, 6 grades could not read 3 grade books or even spell. This is unacceptable.

“As emotional as this could be, I am not here to make a political statement to raise sentiments of things I cannot do. What I can do is what prompted this nationwide tour to have an assessment of where we are and what we can do to change the system.

“There are things about my job requirement that I may not know about though I have been reading about them but I intend to work with my team to provide the solutions necessary and that is why I will be a Minister on the field”, Dr. Jallah said.

She said in line with President Joseph Nyuma Boakai’s ARREST Agenda, the government will prioritize education especially TVET education where students will learn employable skills to empower themselves after graduation. She said that it is unacceptable to have a growing number of young people leaving tertiary institutions without jobs and attributed some of the problems to the lack of skills and training to get employment.

“Under the ARREST Agenda of the President we shall work assiduously to deliver to the country some of key promises of government to have a knowledge based economy where our young people especially who constitute a majority portion of our population will learn new skills and get the basic training that will give them jobs after graduation and build themselves the capacity to further expand the career”, She said.

While addressing specific support to the Zwedru Multilateral High School, she said her administration will emphasize prioritizing Girls & Inclusive education, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programs, as well as upgrading teacher and administrative capacities to enhance the vibrancy, delivery, and sustainability of the school system in the County.

She also said for the government to get the best out of the school, unarguably the only well functional TVET institution in the entire Southeast, there was a need to fast track a legislation to ensure that it comes autonomous and operates outside the usual budgetary allocation given the school from the national budget which is not enough.

“The Ministry of Education and its support to the education sector focuses more on the academic side and not much on TVET. So for the Zwedru Multilateral High School to be to the standard of institutions providing TVET education there is a compelling need to make it autonomous where she will control her own budget to carry out its own programs and development”, she said.

The Minister was overwhelmed with emotion when the President of the Student Council government, Miss Serena Jarbah seized the moment of the day in her impromptu address to welcome the Minister and her team where she held the audience spellbound and made some requests to the Minister amidst tears and standing ovation.

“Madam Minister, we are exceedingly happy and honored to have you in our midst this after. Your visit goes beyond your official call of duty, but is indeed an inspiration and encouragement to the female students in this part of Liberia especially, where opportunities to excel beyond high school education are lacking.

As a female student, your education may end right after high school because of the challenges we face for some of us that come from poor parents and homes.

“Madam Minister, please permit to request from your good offices the opportunities for young and serious girls out of high schools to advance themselves through scholarships or any empowerment opportunities to expand our quest for further education. If your tenure will be remember for someone who came and changed the narrative of the future of education and development in this country, it will be to give unprecedented assistance this this struggle specie of our generation and population”, she said and attracted the Minister standing up to cheer her on and overtaken by emotion as tears flowed from her eyes.

The Minister then toured the campus to inspect facilities where she admired the output of the students, especially those at the WoodWork department who made some fine furniture and displaced them to the admiration of the Minister and entourage.

Led by Dr. Jallah, a team of proficient professionals from the Ministry’s Inspectorate conducted a thorough evaluation of Zwedru Multilateral High School’s educational provisions, infrastructure, and academic environment. Throughout the assessment tour, the team meticulously examined various aspects of the institution, including curriculum delivery, student engagement initiatives, and facility maintenance protocols, across Grand Gedeh County.

During the program, Mr. Harry D. Doe, the County Education Officer of Grand Gedeh County, presented a comprehensive overview of the County School System.

His presentation included the total enrollment of students in primary, junior, and senior levels, along with the qualifications of teachers.

Additionally, Mr. Doe informed the Minister and her entourage about ongoing academic programs and activities supported by various organizations such as Bridge Liberia, Save the Children, UNFPA, Brac, UNICEF, WORLD BANK IRISE EU-UNIDO, Breakthrough Liberia, among others.

However, Mr. Doe also highlighted several challenges faced by the education system, including inadequate learning materials, deficient infrastructure, teacher shortages, difficulties in replacing teachers, lack of logistics, underpayment of teachers, centralized support, limited teachers in science fields, and consistent theft due to security inefficiencies.

He concluded his presentation with recommendations such as placing rural voluntary teachers on the payroll, providing motivational incentives, regularizing salaries, promptly replacing deceased and abandoned teachers, decentralizing operational permits, removing ghost names, and providing logistical support to District Education Officers to enhance their work.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Principal of the Zwedru Multilateral High School thanked the Minister for being thoughtful enough to begin her nationwide tour in Grand Gedeh County and said that the visit will afford the administration of the school to opportunity to interface with her and her entourage with the view of finding solutions of the problems facing the school.

“We want to wholeheartedly welcome you to our campus and we look forward to a rewarding visit where we will interface and discuss some of the crucial problems facing us. As you know, there has been a process of expansion in this school with the TVET program. The development partners, especially UNIDO, have been supportive of our program and we are grateful for them.

“However there is a limitation to some of these sorts of assistance and it is high time that the government, our main sponsor, steps in with more support and we are excited that you are here for us to sit down and find the way forward”, Bohlen said.

The Minister and team also visited the Tubman Wilson Institute (TWI), the oldest secondary school in the county, where she gave assurance for the improvement and sustainability of Liberia’s public school facilities in the County, the promise that restored hope for the administration, teachers, students, and parents.

However, she underscored that achieving these goals requires collective commitment and adequate support from the national government and partners.

Moreover, Minister Jallah stressed the government’s continuous commitment and expressed gratitude to the school’s administration, teachers, students, education stakeholders, and parents, emphasizing collaboration for the betterment of the education system.

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  3. Kau Gontee says

    You better go and transform the high school dropout mentality of your corrupt brother in law Darius Dillon who thinks cultism is education. One would not be surprised he ending up as his late mentor Theo Gould. A dummy like you becoming education minister. These are some of the primary reasons why our educational sector is so directionless.

  4. Sorna. F. Sherif says

    Thanks Madam Minister for the county tour! It will afford you the opportunity to get first hand information on the true picture of our educational system.

    Best wishes in your endeavors!

  5. Garsuah Gborvlehn says

    All such tours are simply a ploy to justify raking funds from government coffers to satiate her corrupt and greedy lusts. You must be mentally blind to believe that she has to go to places to be informed of conditions in the educational sectors. THAT FAT sister in law of corrupt Dillon who lied about his plane ticked until he was publicly disgraced, is a symbol of the uselessness of this government.

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