Buchanan, Grand Bassa County – The impact of Grand Bassa Community College (GBCC) is now glaring after graduating over 500 students since its inception in 2008.
The college is gaining relevance not just in Grand Bassa, but also for students hailing from Rivercess, Margibi and Sinoe Counties mainly because of its technical vocational training programs at the college. Nursing, agriculture, mechanic, computer science are among several other courses afford at the college. At the last graduation of 344 students in March, Engineering & Applied Sciences and Health Sciences Departments put out the highest number of students with the latter graduating 92 and the former 83. The administration is looking to improving its Technical Vocational Training Program (T-VET), but consistent financial support can do the work, according to GBCC President, Dr. Levi Zangai. On top of a list of enormous constraints, the GBCC is aiming to complete its 100% relocation to the Paynesberry Campus, about 4 miles outside Buchanan. “Developing, managing and relocating an institution of higher learning and technical education is a daunting challenge; and the Grand Bassa Community College is no exception,” said Dr. Zangai at the second commencement program of the GBCC. Dr. Zangai has outlined the need to increase budgetary support and scholarships for training and hiring of instructors and professors in the priority areas of Science and Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Nursing, TVET, ICT, Teachers Education, Agriculture, and Entrepreneurship. He added that significant interventions should be made at the GBCC to achieve the aforementioned. Amongst several other things, he also mentioned the need for furniture, solar energy electrification and mini-hydro, housing facilities for visiting professors, faculty, staff and students and building for the Gender Studies and Women’s Resource Center for GBCC’s Paynesberry Campus. The GBCC President’s request appears ambitious especially with evidence of past struggles to obtain resources. For over three years the college has lamented limited support from the county and central governments but a US$850,000.00 subsidy eased the constraints leading to the successful holding of its second graduation in almost eight years. Keeping the financial support to the college steadfast is vital to sustaining the gains. The promises are still echoing after a month since the last graduation program when the County Superintendent and the Legislative Caucus pledged their unflinching support to the GBCC. Speaking on behalf of the caucus, Senator Jonathan Kaipay assured that they will work to augment the college budget from US$600,000 to US$800, 000.00; but this is only feasible if divisive politics is extinguished in the county. GBCC Opting for China’s Support However, it appears that the college is confident of seeking external support from partners and foreign universities. Aware of the impact China has made in Liberia over the last couple of years, the college opted to invite Ambassador Zhang Yue of the powerful Asian nation to serve as its commencement speaker. Dr. Zangai and his faculty were aiming to lure support to the college and are still although there has not been any big move from the Chinese toward GBCC. “We will appreciate your commitment to support the completion of our new campus for the relocation of the College,” Dr. Zangai told the proxy of Ambassador Yue – the Chinese Embassy’s Political Director, David Zhang. “Please speak to your Government and your companies to help complete, equip and furnish our new campus, and to support our College,” he added. The GBCC is also looking for more help from the Chinese, requesting for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Agriculture, and Health Sciences teachers from Chinese Universities; this the GBCC says will help strengthen its capacity. And the college President is desperate for a Chinese University-GBCC partnership which he thinks can make tremendous impact. “Capacity-building partnerships for faculty and students development with some Chinese Universities could also be helpful to our College,” he said. Recalling a 2006 interaction to strengthen the friendly cooperation and exchange of views between China and African countries at several universities including the Northeast Normal University in Beijing, which focused on the areas of tertiary education, Dr. Zangai stressed the significant way it exposed African participants to the level of economic development, industrialization and urbanization of China. Dr. Zangai says his experience in China exemplified the need to improve relationship with universities as a conduit of improving Liberia’s education – especially tertiary education. He argues that the success of providing demand-driven, quality education is partnership. “GBCC in particular, cannot rely solely on subsidies from the Liberian Government and the County’s Social Development Fund,” Dr. Zangai suggested adding, “There is a need for tertiary institutions to seek private-sector partnerships to augment their public resources to be able to provide quality and relevant education to Liberia’s youthful population.” GBCC’s request is bulky. For the Chinese, it is minute. Facts show that China is the second biggest economy in the world and is becoming a big diplomatic partner to many African States with tremendous inroads made in recent years on the African continent. China is also aware of its responsibility and has provided hundreds of scholarships to Liberian students geared toward building their capacity. David Zhang said at the second GBCC graduation that 46 new scholarships for young Liberian students to study in China were available last month. The Political Director at the Chinese Embassy in Liberia told the graduates to help strengthen Liberia-China relationship for their own good. “It is in your personal and national interest to develop a resolve orientation of working …; if you want to make a difference in Liberia,” he said confidently, adding that “It’s time for us to roll our sleeves and tightened our belts to do something useful and tangible, starting now and starting from yourself,” he concluded. The Chinese Embassy has made no promise to GBCC since the graduation in early March 2016, nevertheless the young college hope remains high. With significant progress made so far amid the lingering challenges, GBCC President is optimistic that the college can grow into a magnificent and reputable higher learning institution in the country especially with the existence of a US$2.2 Million new campus on 250 acres of land in Paynesberry - near the Benson River outside Buchanan City.