Education is very important to the economic and social well-being of every nation, which is why I think it should be a focus in the plans and budget of the Liberian Government. Some of the most important forms of investment needed for a country’s economic growth are human capital and innovation capability. Investing in these things will give any nation a boost in economic growth and technological advancement. Sadly, these major areas have been shown minimal interest by the past and present Liberian Governments. It is a disgrace that past and present governments of Liberia have continued to turn a blind eye on this nation building issue.
Today, according to Education Policy and Data Center, “54% of students age between 15-24 have not completed primary education in Liberia.” Many children today dropout of school for several reasons, many of which are economical. As a result of this, there has been a continual negative effect on the economy of Liberia. Education serves as a key component of economic growth because of its positive influence on productivity growth, women empowerment, employment opportunities and entrepreneurship. Arguably, with the little attention our government has paid to bringing forth quality education, these dropouts will only contribute to the already low literacy rate of Liberia and its non-innovative environment.
Some ways that Liberia can become a nation of quality education is to develop programs that would help to provide youth with the ability to creatively and systematically keep up with the fast changing global inclinations today. Our leaders should start envisioning a change that would enable this nation to target investments for higher education which would in turn accelerate the economic activity and development of Liberia. In Liberia, there are currently eight recognized universities, five community colleges, and six other institutions that are not fully recognized. For a country of 4.6 million people, this should certainly not be the case. Additionally, we do not have sufficient libraries and research facilities around the country. Students lack access to electricity for the upkeep of their studies. Liberia has just one medical school offering a doctorate degree in Medicine in the entire country (A. M. Dogliotti College of Medicine) with no world-renowned school for technology and engineering. All this are some indications that the government is not doing more to invest in the future of this country. For our economy to “take off”, the government needs to build expertise in these areas. I am not going to take away the effort that has been made over the years with the addition of the few schools we have seen around, but it is still not enough. The economy of Liberia is still not firm as it should have gotten over the past 16 years.
With the following ideas, Liberia will be well on her way to becoming a nation of quality education whilst joining other countries in the region that have taken many steps ahead of us:
- For quality purposes, electricity should be a main focus of the government in order for students to be able to do well . It is because of the lack of electricity and technologies in schools that teachers and students are lightyears behind the rest of the world. How can there be medical schools with insufficient lab facilities and lack of consistent power supply? How can there be engineering colleges with the same issues? It takes a lot more than just going to classes. How can students be able to do research if they don’t have access to more computer labs? As such, students who are fortunate enough to study abroad typically turn out more knowledgeable than students in Liberia because they are exposed to many infrastructures that make learning easier and faster than those students back home.
- Teachers are the providers of knowledge and a bad teacher can cause immense harm. The current practice of simply grabbing BSc holders with “good” averages and little to no teaching skills and placing them in front of classrooms to teach only because they don’t want to pay qualified teachers needs to stop. There should be a system set up for qualified teachers to be paid sufficiently and given proper benefits so that they don’t feel the need to take bribes from students. When students realize they can bribe their way through, they become unmotivated to earn their successes which leads to illiterate graduates.
With the effect that education can have on one’s future, it is clear that improving the quality of education in the country would in turn directly determine the gains and quality Liberia can acquire. The unemployment rate in the country is very high due to lack of qualified graduates; this leads to the existence of many people who can not afford to support their family because of low incomes. Therefore, with an improvement in the quality of education in the country, there can be an increase in wealth of many Liberians, reduction in poverty and the literacy rate.
Authored by Valdemar Reeves
Featured Image by Gabriel S. Zinny