LIBERIA: Graduation Fees Undermines Tuition Free Policy -CDC Secretary General Koijee Bemoans
Monrovia, May 30, 2023(DW) – The Secretary General of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is swamped with members of the downtrodden class of Liberia who were according him, “economically deprived for many years before 2018.”
“This is why the party, ever since its ascendency to power has proud its actions for instituting policies and programs that benefit those at the lowest point of the economic ladder through the Pro Poor Agenda for Development and Prosperity (PAPD).” KOIJEE said.
During a press conference in Monrovia, the CDC SG indicated that to match words to action, President George Manneh Weah announced a tuition free policy at all public universities across Liberia to relieve parents of the extra cost of paying their children’s college school fees -a critical step towards increasing the country’s human capital development indices.
The National Secretary General of the CDC, Jefferson Tamba Koijee said he has discovered a deliberate ploy to undermine this people-driven policy under the guise of graduation fees.
“We cannot be telling our people to go to public universities free of tuition and then when they shall completed their studies, they would be confronted with the challenge of paying hefty graduation fees. Something needs to be done about this. This is a burden too weighty for the ordinary people to bear.” The CDC Chief Scribe told the well-attended press conference on the afternoon of May 29, 2023 at the headquarters of the Coalition for Democratic Change.
The National Secretary General of the CDC maintained that asking people to pay graduation fees after lifting tuition burden off their shoulders undermines the true intent of the pro poor educational policy that seeks to enable every Liberian to acquire tertiary education.
“The CDC led government under the leader of the paragon of peace, George Manneh Weah is committed to removing everything that represents barrier to ensuring that Liberians are emancipated from the dungeon of illiteracy to the pedestal of intelligence.” He stipulated.
According to him, the decision to demand graduating students to pay hefty amount like the US$375.00 the University of Liberia is requesting is akin to saying go to school now and pay at the end of your studies.
Koijee intoned that the tuition free policy is being taken to a more sterner level through the introduction of a bill by two CDC lawmakers: Representative Frank Saah Foko and Representative Thomas P. Fallah which is now before the Liberian Senate for concurrence as a way of making sure that even the regime of President George Weah, Liberians do not go back to the dark of educational opportunities being available to the privileged few who have access to state resources and their families.
“I have heeded to the instruction of the Chairman of the Coalition for Democratic Change, Mulbah K. Morlu to write the Minister of Education, Prof. D Ansu Sonii and the office of the President to look into the matter for immediate redress.” Koijee said.
He entreated Minister Sonii to begin taking steps in that regard while President Weah is on his way back from Nigeria where he has gone to attend the inauguration of the new President of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The CDC National Secretary General pointed out that paying graduation fees seems to be unique to Liberia because during his recent visit to the University of Oxford, he asked about similar situation and he was informed that was not happening.
“Hence, it is unthinkable that a country that is struggling to pull through the mud of economic destitution would endeavor to overburden its citizenry.” Koijee added.
In October 2019, President George Weah announced a revolutionary change to Liberia’s educational nightmares. He declared that tuition would be free for all undergraduates in Liberian public universities.
President Weah made the announcement during a speech at the University of Liberia (UL). It was received with loud cheers and applause. Students at UL had been protesting against the university’s administration for raising fees. The protest escalated to the country’s president, who promised to address the matter.
For the 2018/2019 academic year, UL was expecting 20,000 students. Unfortunately, only about 12,000 students were enrolled in the university due to the fee hike. Out of these 12,000 students, about 5,000 depend on financial aid or scholarships.
Many students miss out on a university education due to the high cost. The new policy will help a large number of students. It will be introduced in all community colleges and the country’s four public universities (University of Liberia, the Booker Washington Institute, Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law and the William V.S. Tubman University).
In his speech, President Weah said, “I personally believe in education. Therefore, I feel that the constant drop out of students from the various schools is counterproductive.”
The Liberian president also believes that there is a link between education and economic growth.