The Editor, Recently the Presidentof the University of Liberia, Dr. Emmett Dennis said the increment in the tuition is the result of continual budget shortfall the University had faced over the years." Whose fault is it; the poor struggling students?
We are talking about the nation's highest institution of learning: The University of Liberia with over 30, 000 students but with a meager annual operating budget that just went up to $15 million, first from $5 million and then to $10 million since 2006.
Students are forced to pay their own way on privately operated buses owned by people connected to the powers that be at exorbitant fares between both campuses. Worse still, because the University of Liberia doesn't have its own fleet of buses.
Elsewhere in the government and in public corporations, many presidential appointees earn anywhere between $50,000 to over $400,000.00 yearly as was the salary of the recently retired head of the Liberia Maritime Agency, Binyah Kesselly.
the bankrupt National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL)--thanks to PresidentSirleaf's son Robert who ran the entity into bankruptcy --- his salary was $360,000.00 a year, or $30,000.00 a month, or $1,000.00 a day. Each NOCAL Board member earned $9,000.00 a month, or $108,000.00 a year.
NOCAL reportedly had generated over $100 million in offshore oil drilling rights fees. The money disappeared and mom Presidenthas refused to audit NOCAL and beloved son Robert.
In recent national budgets, PresidentSirleaf who is now visiting the United States for her regular taxpayer funded annual medical care, was allocated $2 million yearly for "Presidential office use and another $3 million for presidential oversea travels."
Several other appointees who head the National Port Authority, Robert's International Airport/Liberia Aviation Authority, Liberian Petroleum Refinery Corporation, Liberia Telecommunications Authority, Liberia Investment Commission, National/Central Bank of Liberia and their Board members earn over $100,000.00 each in annual pay.
Yet the University of Liberia's (LU) annual budget is less than any American preschool daycare center budget. LU is not even connected to the largest library in the world and global superhighway of public information, the INTERNET.
The over 30,000 students are forced to share four (4) public toilets on both campuses. There is no running or safe drinking water and electricity is sporadic, off and on.
PresidentEllen Johnson Sirleaf recently attended the high school graduation of her grandson in Florida, and another relative in high school was flown to Liberia from oil rich Alaska to lecture a national panel discussion on our recent offshore oil find.
There are heartbreaking photos all over on Facebook of Liberian kids under 15 years of age who are breaking rocks to sell to help family put food on the table.
PresidentSirleaf, in her 2006 presidential inaugural address to the nation and the world, promised the Liberian "Papa (father) with good paying jobs and he would come home from work with his bags full with food and other goodies to restore the long lost smiles on their children faces" who all missed out on schooling during the 14-year civil war she confessed to funding.
And if that was not enough, PresidentSirleaf threatened to "arrest and jail parents who didn't send their children to school," the ones now breaking rocks with there bare hands in 100 degrees temperatures to replace their jobless Papas. But Ellen's children/grandchildren are attending the best schools in America.
And since Global Witness is in the news now in Liberia for uncovering corruption, it is worth noting that the $20 billionaire American founder of Global Witness, Dr. George Soros had donated $5 million in the first years of the Sirleaf regime toward education improvement in Liberia.
"Dr. Joseph Korto" was Ellen's Education Minister then. The $5 million "disappeared" in the corrupt Liberian bureaucracy.
An angry Dr. George Soros flew to Liberia and confronted PresidentSirleaf who gave him all the excuses in the world about the unaccounted for $5 million, according to Dr. Soros himself during a news conference in Monrovia following his meeting with Ellen at the Executive Mansion before the Mansion was gutted by fire in July 2006.
It is therefore not surprising that PresidentSirleaf has been paying lip-service to education. Hope the next Presidentrecognizes the importance of education as the engine that drives national development.
"A mind is a terrible thing to waste,"--NAACP. And there are many wasted minds in Liberia and Africa in general because our leaders have neglected to adequately fund education. Sorry University of Liberia and say your prayers students or keep protesting till all hell freezes over. Da new again.
Jerry Wehtee Wion,
Washington, DC, USA