PARIS – Liberia’s Education Minister Professor D. Ansu Sonii and his Sierra Leonean counterpart Professor Aiah Gbakima have expressed the need for partnership and collaboration in promoting programs between the two countries in the areas of Technical and Vocation Education(TVET) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics( STEM ) education with support from UNESCO and other partners.
Professor Sonii intimated that Liberia places priority on its TVET programs, emphasizing that it will help in providing skills and other employable job opportunities to school drop outs, those with low academic capacity individuals and other forms of skills under its TVET programs in both the private and public sector.
Professor Sonii said with the number of hige school dropouts and other members of the population who have left high schools but can not enroll in the universities, the TVET programs will help in providing skills for them in the areas of mechanical, construction, carpentry, motorbike repair, electricity among others which are essential for their livelihood and survival.
Minister Sonii said that under the Ministry of Education TVET program along with other higher institutions of learning; Liberia has graduated many students in all of its TVET programs in both the private and public sectors, thus emphasizing the need for the construction of additional TVET institutions, to enhance their programs and ensure that they are fully equipped and supported financially.
Under its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics( STEM) program, Professor Sonii noted that the Liberian Government places high priority in developing its STEM programs across regions of the country; but noted it would require the assistance of educational partners and other groups. He said the world has evolved into science and technology and Liberia needs to ensure that serious efforts are put into place to promote its STEM program.
Professor Aiah Gbakima of Sierra Leone said his country was making frantic efforts in reviving its Technical and Vocational(TVET) to meet the growing needs of the huge non skilled population of his country. He said the ministry has worked to ensure the development of a robust TVET policy; development of framework for public-Private-Partnership, with a view to increasing private sector participation in TVET; expand access; improve quality of TVET particularly in areas with high potential for job creation; review and standardize curriculum and certification for TVET; develop a National Apprenticeship Scheme that can provide internship for TVET trainees and others; and promote agriculture based TVET to enhance food production and food security.
UNESCO Director of Policies and Learning Systems, Borhene Chakroun welcomed the initiative by the two Mano River Union countries to prioritize and share common fronts in the areas of TVET and STEM education in the ongoing programs at various levels.
Mr. Chakroun said experience sharing and cross-border learning and capacity development will go a long way in not only promoting their programs, but will also attract donor support and shows improvements in al areas of both TVET and STEM education.
He said Liberia needs to learn and capture in areas where Sierra Leone has made progress and Sierra Leone also need to do the same, noting that UNESCO stands ready to support and guide the countries in those directions.
He said skills enhancement; capacity development and manpower promotion is key, but they must also go along with TVET teachers training programs in new and innovative skills.