By Moses Blonkanjay Jackson (MsEd, EdM)
In my thinking thoughts I experienced a melancholic yet guilty emotion considering the frantic efforts “the Oldma”, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf continues to apply overtime in fixing the unexpected deficiencies in her administration especially the education sector which, more than other sectors, is frequently pruned and purged to prevent the looming dents, gaps, and crevices in her legacy when she finally leaves office.
As a national mantra that is apparently not based on research, the education sector of Liberia is in a “messy” condition and has yet to achieve its goals as enshrined in the 2011 Education Act in spite of many missed opportunities for improvement. Admittedly, since her ascendency as President, education reform has been challenging and therefore prompted Madam Sirleaf to make frequent changes of administrators starting from Dr. Korto to George Werner.
In my thinking thoughts, if the continuous shuffling and re-shuffling of education administrators has clearly not “positioned the Ace of Spades” why not use other trump cards? Why not establish a regulatory arm to serve as an auxiliary to the MOE, or an Education and Teaching Regulatory Authority of Liberia or EDUCATRAL?
The trend of events in the education sector when closely studied shows the Ministry of Education as a “stand alone” mainstream service delivery entity definitely lacks capacity to manage and implement the colossal professional education reform tasks. While the lack of capacity overtime has been attributed to factors such as low budgets, inadequate logistics and insufficiently qualified manpower, the need for additional professional structures to assist in education regulation and management (teaching, supervision, monitoring, research, etc.) has not received much relevance.
This has been a missed opportunity considering UN sustainable development goal #4 (SDG#4), which encourages all developed and underdeveloped countries, and advocates to develop structures and policies to move and re-align the current states of their education sectors by providing inclusive and lifelong learning with equal quality.
Now, recently there have been conversations over the conclusion of President Sirleaf’s tenure and the legacy she might leave behind. In spite of successes so far, it would be debatable to include education in the success stories if steps were not taken to leave behind a framework for future reforms.
It is therefore to those ends that in my thinking thoughts, if I had the clout and space, I would encourage the cabinet and chief lieutenants of Madam President to encourage her to establish an agency to be referred to as the Education and Teaching Regulatory Authority of Liberia or EDUCATRAL, to patch the looming hole in her legacy and cement it.
EDUCATRAL would be a semi-autonomous technical-professional agency operated by only “proven” educators to regulate teaching and education management, conduct research, licensing & accreditation, and reforms to support the management and implementation of education policies and initiatives in a more result-based, research-driven, decentralized, professional and effective fashion.
Fellow Liberians, if pundits wondered why another education agency in wake of a staggering Ministry of Education, the answers would be simple. Firstly, the MOE is truly staggering and unable to remain in sync and that is why, I intuit, the President usually makes changes at the MOE. Secondly, EDUCATRAL would be similar to the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), the National Port Authority (NPA), the Land Commission, the Liberia Domestic Airport Authority (LDAA) and Council of Chiefs. Note that these agencies are auxiliaries established to enhance the implementation of tasks assigned various mainstream government ministries.
I submit that this shift in education management strategy would not be unique to Liberia, for in many parts of the world, auxiliary agencies are established to manage and regulate education to ensure high quality. For example Ghana has the Ghana Education System (GES), there is a Teachers service Commission of Kenya; there is an International Federation of Teaching Regulatory Authorities (IFTRA) which is the world body for all education regulatory groups; the African Federation of Teaching Regulatory Authority (AFTRA) is in the same token a conglomeration of teaching authorities in Africa.
Fellow educators, as President Sirleaf and her cabinet prepare to exit the stage of national leadership, what would they say is a platform from which the next president would begin to improve education? A major re-shuffle? Ushering foreign education reform concepts and stakeholders? or leaving behind a framework to manage teaching and learning?
Admittedly, if EDUCATRAL is successfully established and made functional, this would cement the legacy of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led government but most of all, it would be compliance to the human rights of Liberian children for access to quality education as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), SDG #4 and 2011 Education Act. I submit that would be a laudable effort by Madam.
Fellow veteran educators, my melancholic mood was because you who are well read and bred in the matters of education have not risen to the occasion to launch collective and concerted initiatives as our President struggles to maintain sanity in your very own profession. Guilty because I have been sleeping and not writing articles; this has seemingly caused a hiatus in my education reform advocacy.
It is to these ends that I advocate and insist that in order to cement her legacy, President Sirleaf needs to support the establishment of EDUCATRAL as an auxiliary operated only by “proven educators” to improve the education sector of the Republic of Liberia.
The Benediction (A Charge to keep)
With all due respect I must depart with a word that President Sirleaf has “a charge to keep” (ensure quality education for Liberian citizens) and a God to glorify (a cemented legacy); ever dying souls (children of Liberia) to save and set to the sky (cemented legacy).
May the lord bless and keep all teachers and make his face to shine upon them and give them grace and peace that passes all understanding in Jesus name. AMEN
I am simply thinking thoughts.
Author's Statement: The Rivercess Village man, Moses Blonkanjay Jackson is a triple Ivy League product, and a Jesuit protégé; Blonkanjay is a proven education expert, university lecturer and veteran teacher trainer who has previously served the Government of Liberia at the Bureau of Teacher Education. The Rivercess man has authored several articles on education reform, which are being compiled for publication as an Educational Engineering book.