“A total mess” was the acidic and somehow candid description of Liberia’s educational ‘system’ by no less a personality than the nation’s Chief executive herself, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Candid, because the President’s indictment of our educational system goes beyond the tenets of a mere statement of fact. It is an admittance of both guilt and failure given that this statement by her Excellency was made several years into her presidency.
“Every government official; Liberian educators working in that deplorable sector as well as guardians, parents, students and teachers must share in the blame for the failure of our so-called educational system,” declared Dr. Martin W. Bliden.
Indeed Liberia’s educational sector started going sour several years ago, well before the onset of the civil war - the onset of which only made a failing situation worse.
During the post war years, concerned and well-informed Liberians as well as employers in the public sector were amazed to notice ‘high school and college graduates’ who were unable to read or write simple sentences befitting the academic sanctions of their respective diplomas and degrees.
That unflattering amazement has turned into a rolling scorn heaped on Liberian graduates.
Then came the not so surprised appointment of George Werner as Minister of Education with the mandate to clean up the “mess” in the system.
Werner’s inability to grapple with the herculean task of straightening out a byzantine system, without first assessing the decades old fault lines in that system, seems to spell his undoing.
“That young man Werner is completely out of his depths in handling that cantankerous and intractable Ministry of Education,” commented a retired educator now living in Gbarnga, Bong County.
Now the National Teachers Association of Liberia are on Werner’s back, calling for his head because according to them it is a disgrace for the Minister to compel them to take aptitude tests as a prerequisite for them to remain within the system.
According to the aggrieved stakeholders, Werner should instead concentrate on putting together an operational consensus with which the ministry’s myriad problems could be brought on track, rather than engaging in projects like the Public-Private Partnership program which they believe further deepens the educational woes.
From our end, we sincerely believe, what that troubled Ministry needs most at this point is for all stakeholders to go back to the drawing board in order to correct the wrong that is breeding these standoffs resulting to member of the National Teachers Association of Liberia calling for the dismissal of Minister Werner