More than 50 students of the Tubman University (TU) in Maryland County yesterday stormed the grounds of the Liberian Legislature on the Capitol Hill in Monrovia, demanding the immediate reopening of the school which is now virtually closed to the public due to protest by the university’s professors who have recently complained about huge salary and budget cuts.
The aggrieved students yesterday presented a petition to the Liberian Legislature for the body’s swift intervention into the matter. Tubman University, situated over 700 miles from the nation’s capital Monrovia, is one few tertiary institutions that has been providing effective technical and manpower support to the Liberian nation.
The school has also provided 50% of the country’s technical needs. The University was reopened in September 2010 after years of protracted civil wars which left its instructional staff devastated and infrastructure broken apart.
It is situated in Liberia’s southeastern county of Maryland, the home soil of the country’s longstanding President, Dr. William V.S. Tubman. The University has five departments, including agricultural and food, engineering, education, health and sciences, and management.
The aggrieved TU students presented their case to the House Committee Chairperson on Claims and Petition, Montserrado Representative Rustolyn S. Dennis, while the Liberian Senate today took seize of the matter.
“We are demanding that the government of Liberia immediately reopens the Tubman University which has served as a major learning bub in this country, serving thousands of students in the southeast of Liberia and beyond,” Tubman University Student Government’s President John E. Tarr asserted while presenting the petition on behalf of the students, placing emphasis on mass education and the elimination of illiteracy in this country.
He laments: “As I speak to you, our instructors have now laid chalks due to complaints of salary cuts by the Ministry of Finance. We demand that the government of Liberia abandons the 3.5, 5%, and 7.5% salary cuts at the university,” he asserted.
He said the students are also demanding the immediate reimbursements of faculty members’ salaries that were cut from the recent harmonized payment scheme introduced by the Ministry of Finance.
Responding to the petitioners, Representative Dennis of the House’s Committee chairperson on Claims and Petition, promised to deliver their petition to plenary for discussion and possible resolution of the matter.
“Education is the bedrock for any country that wants to forge ahead,” Representative Dennis intoned. She added: “I appreciate tour coming here today, and we will ensure that we deliver your message to plenary so that collectively we can find a way out of this situation,” the lawmaker said.
She added, “It’s regrettable to hear you guys go through this kind of condition. I will join you in this fight to reopen the Tubman University so that you may continue with your education. It’s your right to educated in this country, and we’ll ensure that this right is protected at all times.”