By Mohammed Salue Sy
University of Liberia
The University Of Liberia is a government funded institution of higher learning that was not established by any religious body or enterprises .Besides, the University of Liberia is the oldest institution of learning in tropical Africa that was authorized by the Liberian government in 1851 to educate Liberian and foreign nationals as well. The school opened its door in 1863 as Liberia College and became a university in 1951.Presently this prestigious state-run university has six colleges, three professional schools and three graduate programs. These colleges include Liberia College of social sciences and Humanities, college of Business and public Administration, the college of General studies and TJR Faulkner college of Science and Technology.Additionally, there are the William Vs Tubman Teachers college and William R Tolbert College of agriculture and Forestry. For the professional school constituting of the Louis Arthur Grimes school of Law, The AM Dogliotti college of Medicine and The school of Pharmacy.
Graduate program-Ibrahim B Babanginda graduate program in International relations, the graduate program in Regional science and graduate program in education administration.
Mission statement of The University of Liberia
The key mission of University of Liberia which is the microcosm of the society is to prepare well qualified men and women for teaching, research, Public and private service and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium development goals for sustainable development. Before delving into the crux of the subject matter, let me briefly ink again on the charter that established the University of Liberia.
The university of Liberia ,formerly Known as Liberia College was established by an act of national Legislature on the 15th February 1951 as an institution of higher education, a corporate and legal institution with endless succession under the government of the trustees. Its most objective is to provide quality education to all Liberians and individuals of other nations. History shall not judge me justly in its annals if I renege on outlining those major challenges of Lux –in-tenebris before stating the premise of this article. Liberia as the oldest African republic has only one state-run university that is engulfed with enormous challenges that demands serious intervention .These myriad of problems ranging from:
A. Excessive dominance of political interferences
B.Inadequate budgetary allotment
C.Faculty qualifications and Publications
D.Antiquated and dilapidated laboratories, Libraries
F.Institutional capacity building
G.Development and research capacity
Given the above synopsis of the University Of Liberia strongly emphasizing on its history as an institution of higher learning ,Mission Statement ,charter of its and above all those challenges surround it now compel me to firmly break silence on this piece entitled: Pessimism clouds over UL Students As Tuition Fees Increase.
Barely few months ago rumors have been speculating like a wildfire on the campuses of the UL about the proposed plan of the tuition increment from UsD$2.05 to USD$4.00 for undergraduate and from USD$55.00 to USD$75 by the administration effectively the next semester of 2015/2016.As the rumor lingers amongst students, serious attention was not given to it on grounds that such rumor is a serious joke lacking iota of truth. Fortunately terminating this past semester successfully and unfortunately students were extremely shocked when news reached them via the local media, friends that tuition fees have been hiked.
Upon hearing this shocking information from Comrade Dusty, a colleague of mine barely an hour after listening to the press release read by the Bong county senator Jewel-Howard Taylor two weeks ago briefly provided few insights of the release. With frustration and no symptom of hope from him about going to school next semester. I managed to sway this discussion to another issue to calm his frustration. While multiple of questions lingered on my mind about the whole day till evening, I decided to tune in the power TV news at nine as Jewel-Howard Taylor enthusiastically read the release.
Let this be a clear caveat that the university Of Liberia was not established for profit making neither exploitation of the poor comrades, sons and daughters of the dregs of the society .Since the University authority is arguing that the increment of the tuition fees is a result of the continuous budgetary shortfall the university has faced over the years is prompting to mitigate the problem like this, is no way the responsibility of the to bear burden like this.
Firstly by law, the University of Liberia should be fully funded by the national government of Liberia. Students by the way should not even pay penny but regrettably those poor students pitifully struggle to pay their fees. We as students disregarding our political differences, backgrounds, school of thought, and affiliations least to say status quo and what have you need to wake up from the slumber and stupor to vehemently contest this decision emanating from the UL authority in cohort with the board of trustees. The time has come for us to go beyond words. The moment for us to stand tall for our rights is here .The day we cannot ignore the fight for academic freedom is now tintinnabulating in our ears. As the dawn of a new day in our quest for education, we need to muster the courage of consultations.
Let us not sit like Rip winkle to see thousands of struggling university students dropping out of school for no reasons.
Secondly from an economic perspective which speaks volume to the prevailing hardships of Liberians cannot permit them to pay their own tuition fees. Presently, giant donors of scholarships at the University of Liberia are waning down their curtains. According to the Liberia’s labor force survey only 1.1 million Liberians of the nearly 4.0 million population are counted as employed in Liberia.Besides,accoding to the 2013 UNDP statistics report it stressed that 85%of Liberians live on less than a dollar.Infact,we as students at the University of Liberia that the nation heavily relies on for as engineers, medical doctors,economists,politicians should be arguing that the university of Liberia as the bastion of hope must be free of charge as well as students there need to be compensated. I entertain no doubt that that if the government wants to make UL a topnotch institution, she must go on reducing some of those useless budgetary allotments of public servants appropriated for them. Is it not a contradiction on the part of the government when they have established the fact that because of high economic conditions tuition fees be hiked? Are the over 30,000 students at UL not in Liberia? Are they living the Cloud –Cuckoo-land? Or is it an attempt to strangulate the sons and daughters of Jorkpentown,Rally town ,vai town,ClaraTown or….Article six of the 1986 constitution states that the republic shall, because of the vital role assigned to the individual citizen under this constitution for the social ,economic and political well being of Liberia ,provide equal access to educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens to the extent of available resources .Emphasis shall be placed on the mass education of the Liberian people and the elimination of illiteracy. With article six of the Liberian constitution which the national government should implement has been grossly violated. In as much as the nation ‘s premier state of higher learning is not adequately supported as evident in past and present budget showing successive reduction signals government failure demonstrated to tertiary education.
Comrades, cadres, militants revolutionary ideologues, impoverished, struggling and ordinary students will not sit on the fence without constructively engaged the president, national legislature about this unreasonable decision. Former American president John F Kennedy once said “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education”. The human is our fundamental .Therefore; students pursuing education there thousands of whom are economically vulnerable are more than ever prepare to petition the national government for immediate intervention about this unjustified increment of tuition fees. Let me conclude by uttering that while it is true that I disagree with decision emanating from UL authorities in close consultation with the board of trustees and visitor to the University does not mean that I support the idea of violence, neither spew of invectives on national leaders nor obstructing the smooth learning environment of our neighboring universities. But I am willing by conviction to respectfully contest this decision not that I cannot afford but because such action is an emblematic provocation to the underprivileged, economically challenged and so forth. Finally he who closes a school door opens prisons. And finally, I Write.