MONROVIA – In a move seem to be a show of a resolute and committed decision despite some apparent challenges, the National Commission for Higher Education (NCHE) might have jettisoned the nullification of its earlier decision by the Minister of Education D. Ansu Sonii which restricts only PhD holders to occupy the position of Presidents and Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs in universities and colleges, restating that its February 10, 2023 press on “staff requirement that, the Commission stands ready to thrash everything that undermines the provision of quality and competitive higher education in the Republic of Liberia”.
In a press release issued by the regulatory institution and signed by J. Melvin Taydor and Prof. Edward Lama Workeryor, premised on an “effort to achieve the much-needed reform of our higher education system as advocated for by His Excellency President George Manneh Weah and that the NCHE will implement all policies and standards established for the governance of the sector, specifically those policies that seek to place our higher education system into equivalence with our regional and international contemporaries”.
The release further said equally important, the NCHE Secretariat is in consultation with the NCHE Board of commissioners to finalize a workable formula for the effective implementation of the staff requirements regulation, which necessitates presidents and vice presidents for academic affairs of higher education institutions in Liberia to possess earned terminal degrees from accredited institutions.
“As well, the NCHE Secretariat re-emphasizes that the staff requirements as stated herein is not abrupt, or arbitrary, as some may perceive it. This policy has been stressed throughout by the NCHE since 2010, and the heads of higher education institutions should be aware that presidents
and vice presidents for academic affairs are required to hold earned doctorate degrees from accredited institutions.
“The NCHE therefore stands by its position; we urge all our institutions to begin the necessary preparations for Compliance, as we consult the Board of Commissioners on a suitable formula”, the release said.
It can be recalled that last week, the NCHE summoned the courage to implement and enforce one of its regulatory decisions lying down for about 12 years without any authority at NCHE putting it to use thus undermining the much needed standard at the higher education level of the country.
The vigor with which the NCHE intended to enforce the mandate resulted in some of the institutions whose administrations fell below the required threshold in terms of academic qualifications had commenced putting into places succession plan with a number of advertisements made to accept applications for some of the positions.
It was at the peak of the anticipation of a sweeping reform of education at the tertiary level when the Minister of Education D. Ansu Sonii who is also Chairman of the Board of NCHE issued a directive nullifying the decision of NCHE to offer relief to some of the administrators who are obviously not qualified to head top leadership positions in universities and colleges.
“Good Morning Colleagues. This Circular is to nullify the earlier circular from the Secretariat of NCHE regarding the Heads of Universities and Colleges.
“The decision of the Secretariat to request the resignation of Presidents of Universities with immediate effect for whatever reasons, however justified, should first be shared with the Board of Commissioners.
“While we intend to correct the missteps of the same Secretariat, who did the due diligence in time past, and recommended institutions for accreditation, and thereupon, granted such permits, cannot undo its own action with immediate effect with no consideration for the impact of such decision in the ongoing system.
“However authoritative the Board itself may be, an action of this sort could be grossly disruptive without reasonable notification and should be done with further due diligence.
“For this reason, I, the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners, having considered the ramifications of this action do hereby, place a hold on its effectiveness indefinitely, until the matter shall have been referred to the Board by the Secretariat”, Mr. Sonii said.
Whatever might have informed the decision to nullify the regulation, some stakeholders said the decision will further undermine and compromise the proactive initiatives undertaken by the NCHE to save the education system from total collapse.
“This is a sad day for the sector especially coming at the time when the society is being polluted with fake degrees, substandard institutions and ill-prepared products coming out from our universities and colleges.
“I personally celebrated when Ansu Sonii was appointed as Minister of Education because I thought as a former university teacher, he would have known the problems that have impeded the sector from growing. But see the decision from him. It will further destroy the system”, an elderly woman who once worked at the Ministry of Education but didn’t want her name to be in the media said.
Wison Kettor, a radical intellectual said he was not surprised that the NCHE decision was quashed because those who are bent on destroying the education sector will not rest until their bidding is achieved.
“I knew it was coming and I was not surprised. Now, the decision is indefinite, which means we will continue to have people with fake degrees, or who do not even have the right qualifications to head our higher institutions of learning. In that instance do we expect quality to come out of our universities or colleges when the administrators are either parading with fake degrees or do not even have the qualifications?” he reasoned.
The Analyst can confirm that in the wake of the NCHE’s hammer, some institutions were putting in place succession plans with advertisements of vacancies as well as board decisions taken for those who were affected by the regulation to honorably step down.
Sources close to some of those institutions told The Analyst that almost all of such institutions have decided to stay in order and move on as if nothing has happened.
“We can confirm to you that we are suspending our decision to advertise the positions that should have been vacant since the order was announced. We met and set the criteria for the recruitment process and we were to have announced that during our major press conference next week. But for now, it is not necessary again and not urgent as well since the Minister nullified the regulation and the decision will be indefinite”, an administrator for one of the universities said last night.