University of Liberia
Comrades and cadres of the Vanguard Student Unification Party, fast-thinking students of the University of Liberia, my fellow countrymen, and members of the fourth estate, in due fulfillment of our national obligation as Africa’s oldest repository of consciousness, we have come once more in defense of the marginalized, underprivileged and poverty-stricken class of our society. This sacred commitment, which we hold in high esteem, shall forever remain the source of our inspiration as we reenergize to resist our foes.
As we inform the Liberian people and the World at large about the prevailing cruelty and wickedness being perpetrated against thousands of struggling students, today marks another moment to add a new page to our history. The over 31,000 students are about to embark on a journey to defend their right to quality education, which is enshrined in Article 6 of our Constitution. Our nation is the oldest in Africa, but the least in almost every sector, because of the unwillingness of our so-called leaders to invest in quality higher education. Vision 2030 can only achieve its objective if education is given more attention.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, it will interest you to know that our nation is crumbling under a group of self-seeking and unpatriotic stewards. We wonder sometimes whether they are leaders or looters. Their quest for money and illicit wealth has overshadowed the ultimate interest and overall development agenda of our nation. Their eyes and ears are opened, but they pretend not to see and hear the harsh economic realities prevailing across the country. They careless about prioritizing education, and care more about purchasing luxurious cars and pocketing fabulous salaries. While students at the University of Liberia struggle to obtain higher education, they are becoming multi-millionaires! It is because of corruption and greed they want to transfer their financial burden over to jobless students.
Yesterday, the Student Unification Party (SUP) witness with total dismay the pronouncement made by the University of Liberia to increase tuition per credit hour from LD$175.00 to US$4.00 for undergraduate level and US$55.00 to US$75.00 for graduate and professional schools. The Party believes that this ill-omened decision is not only unjustifiable, but an act of provocation. We consider this defenseless decision taken by the University of Liberia in cohort with national government as a DECLARATION OF WAR ON THE STUDENT COMMUNITY. Please do not provoke thousands of struggling students to anger!! We understand that the intent of this regime is to keep us in ignorance and illiteracy, but we refuse to accept that we were created to always be at the bottom. Hence, SUP condemns in the strongest term the latest action by UL Board of Trustees, which was highly influenced by the government, to increase tuition.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, fellow Liberians, the University of Liberia is not a profit-making entity or public enterprise. Those who think that the State-run institution is a revenue-generating arm of government must think again. If you want to make profit, we encourage you to go to NOCAL, MARITIME, LPRC, NPA, etc. According to the Charter that created the University of Liberia in 1951, it is written in bold letters “that the University of Liberia is a public institution of higher education established to provide quality education for the public good of all citizens”. Let it be known today that the government is under obligation by law to provide funding for the University of Liberia. We encourage our government to take this responsibility very seriously!
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, SUP believes that the educational sector in Liberia cannot be transformed through pretense and deceit. What is our government doing to clean-up the mess in our educational sector? The ‘mess can only change to best’ if education is prioritized through realistic budgetary appropriation. The deliberate and indiscreet action of this government to appropriate just US$15.1 million per annum to operate UL projects its unpreparedness to fight poverty and illiteracy. What is big about providing US$29 million to run a University that comprises 31,000 students, 4 campuses, over 1000 faculty members, and 1,200 staff? When the National Legislature (103 lawmakers) has an annual budget of US$38,001,856.00, while over 31,000 students lack access to internet connectivity and computer laboratory, it speaks volume.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, we are compelled to state that the annual budget of just 30 senators is US$11,448,938.00. While our people lack access to quality education and live in acute poverty, our leaders are becoming millionaires. We hope Senator Jewel Howard Taylor who is one of the lead campaigners for tuition increment will also advocate to cut down the astronomical salaries and incentives she is currently receiving from our taxes. We believe that if some of these unnecessary expenses are diverted to the University of Liberia, there would be no need to increase tuition. It is sad that UL is currently operating in a deficit of over US$8,654,095.00, while the offices of the Vice President and the President of Liberia are receiving over US$3 million each. Why are we paying our taxes? Where are the dividends of our natural resources going? It disappointing that we live in a country of equal citizenship, but unequal opportunities. We live in a country where the minority enjoys and the majority suffers!
The Student Unification Party calls on the University of Liberia to reverse its latest decision, because it goes against the best interest of the student. The press statement read yesterday by the wife of a former warlord fell flat of providing concrete justification(s) for tuition increment at UL. At a later date, we will provide a comprehensive analysis to refute such statement. Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, it is shameful for our nation’s highest institution of learning to rank 18,023 place in the World even though it was established since 1862. In Africa, the University of Liberia ranks 228. Are we not embarrassed about these degrading statistics? Can increasing tuition to US$4.00 per credit hour solve the problem?
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf promised us on September 5, 2015, at a meeting with student leaders, that there will be improvement before increment. Since then, nothing has happened! However, the Student Unification Party is opposing tuition increment at UL for the following reasons:
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, those who have been arguing that college education is not free nowhere in the World need to find another argument. There are dozens of countries that provide tuition-free education at college level.
College education in African Countries like Senegal, Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Zimbabwe is free through a well coordinated national program, and these countries are even compensating students as a mean of motivation. Brazil, Germany, France, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Slovenia are providing a tuition-free college education.
Ladies and gentlemen, SUP is calling on Madam Jewel Howard Taylor and others who intend to strangulate thousands of Liberian students to abandon their pitiless scheme. Madam Taylor who is a big beneficiary of blood money under the reign of a career-tyrant and ex-warlord (Charles Taylor) needs to understand that the University of Liberia is not a profit-making entity.
The Student Unification Party with support from the students will do all it can to resist this purported increment. We say no to increment because, it will create serious setback for most of our comrades who are economically vulnerable. In the coming days, the Party will petition the National Legislature to increase the budgetary appropriation of the University. Already over 3,200 students have signed the petition. A peaceful assembly and rally will be held soon…
Long live the Student Unification Party, long live the students of the University of Liberia, and long live the Republic of Liberia.
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press, fellow Liberians, thank you for coming…
Done and issued on this 1st Day of April AD 2016 by the mandate of the Central Committee and Politburo of the Student Unification Party (SUP)
Cde. Butu Levi
Secretary General, SUP
Cde. Jerome D. Dangbuah