LIBERIA: To promote Quality Education CSO Coalition pushes Gov’t to Augment Budget

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As part of the many pushes to improve quality learning in the Liberian educational sector, the USAID-support civil society coalition under the banner of USAID- Civil Society Activity (CSA) the Liberian government through the Ministry of Education has been urged to increase by least 20 percent in the Education Budget for FY 2024.

This move, according to the group, will help to tackle the challenges within the educational sector and to improve the quality of learning.

The USAID-CSA is a conglomeration of several CSOs including UMOVEMENT; Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD); Development Education Network (DEN_L); Institute for Democratic Action and Development (IDAD); Integrity Watch Liberia (IWL); Survivors AID International Liberia (SAIL); Institute for Policy Evaluation and Research (IPER) and Youth Coalition for Education in Liberia (YOCEL).

In a statement delivered on behalf of the group at a news conference held in Monrovia on Tuesday, February 13, 2024 by Siemon Wee of UMOVEMENT, the group named inconsistent and inadequate distribution of school supplies, lack of transparency in procurement and insufficient budget allocations for quality supplies as key challenges confronting the educational sector.

Madam Wee pointed out that these challenges have negative effects on student learning outcomes, hinder teacher-student engagement and undermines the quality of education.

In a bid to solve these daunting tasks, she recommended the need for the implementation of a centralized procurement with transparency measures, establishment of efficient distribution channels and advocacy for a significant increase in the budget for school supplies.

On the second count of challenges, Madam outlined irregular payment of teacher salaries, inefficient payroll systems and the lack of accurate teacher data, something which furthered, have decreased teacher motivation and retention, disruption in teaching and learning and threatened education quality.

To curb this, she stressed the need for an audit of teacher data, implementation of an efficient, transparent payroll system, assurance of regular and timely salary payments and advocacy for an increase in teachers’ benefits and professional development allocations.

On the back of different challenges and negative impact, the USAID-CSA believes that a significant increase in the education budget would be the best way forward as this will in turn link increased budget to improved education outcomes.

“Key areas for intervention for budget increment include: teacher salaries and professional development, infrastructure development and maintenance, early childhood education initiatives and school supplies and materials,” stated Madam Wee.

It could be recalled that the Government of Liberia, in alignment with its commitments under the Incheon Declaration of 2015 and the Dakar Framework of 2000, pledged to allocate a minimum of 20% of the national budget to the education sector. Despite witnessing a gradual increase in the Liberian education sector budget in recent years, rising from 12% in FY2023 to 16% in the FY2024 draft budget, the government has struggled to fulfill its obligations.

Predicated on this, the CSOs conglomerate wants government to augment the current allocation of 14 percent to meet the international standard of 20 percent, as stipulated by the Global Partnership on Education (GPE).

The group maintains that compliance with this benchmark not only aligns with global best practices but also unlocks additional funding opportunities to bolster educational initiatives, adding that this is imperative as neighboring countries of Liberia have surpassed this threshold.

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