Monrovia - The House of Representatives on Thursday received a petition to include vocational education in junior and senior high schools in the country.
The House Chairman on Education, Matthew Zarzar along with Dr. Bhofal Chambers and Mantenokay Tingba, received the petition on behalf of the House of Representatives.
The three lawmakers welcomed the move by the students upon receiving the documents, vowing to take it to plenary.
The group of high school students from District #9, headed by Representative Aspirant Fubi Henries, stormed the Capitol Building with placards calling on the lawmakers to include vocational education in all high schools starting from 7th Grade to 12th Grade.
Some of the placards read: “I am who I am with vocational training.” “We want vocational training in our schools.” “Lawmakers please include vocational training in our schools.”
The crafter of the document, Fubi Henries, said the call to petition the Legislature comes in the wake of the lack of vocational training institutions and the inability of students to acquire university education.
He said he has observed that there are discerning gaps in the number of students having opportunities to go to universities and those who cannot afford tertiary education.
Fubi, in the petition, said the role of tertiary, technical and vocational institutions cannot be overemphasized, as it remains a pre-requisite for sustainable economic growth and sociopolitical development of any nation.
He noted in the petition that Liberia, recovering from the ravages of a devastating civil crisis which has had untold consequences not only on lives and properties but on its valuable human resource capacity, must ensure the existence of viable Technical Vocation Education and Training (TVET) inclusion in our grade schools thus enhancing the furtherance of our developmental agenda.
Currently, there is a serious shortage of institutions of higher learning in the country. Those currently in existence cannot host all of Liberia’s pre-college students. There is a continual increase in the amount paid per credit hour for many of the country’s less fortunate students in the existing few tertiary institutions.
From three tertiary institutions in the 1980s, the country today boasts of two Master’s Degree granting institutions, nine Bachelor’s Degree and 19 Associate Degree granting institutions nationwide with estimated enrollment of 44,000 students.
A few TVET institutions are also sprouting up in Liberia, some government-run and others nonpublic.
What remains to be seen however, is the quality of services these HE and TVET institutions are providing to propel Liberia’s development goals.
An Act of Legislature in 1851, created the University of Liberia, then known as Liberia College, remains the nation’s highest government-funded tertiary education institution, producing the largest segment of student enrollment in the country – 31,000 out of 44,000.
The University of Liberia, popularly known as UL, offers undergraduate programs in the field of Humanities, Science and Business. Master Degree programs in Political Science, Regional Science, Social Development, Peace Studies and Business Administration but unable meet the growing demand and quest by pre-college students.
Fubi said to date, the University of Liberia, as sole granter of professional post-graduate degrees in the fields of Medicine and Law in the country, is responsible for producing the sprinkling of medical doctors and lawyers that are so much demanded in postwar Liberia.
Cuttington University (CU), a private-run tertiary institution, was established in 1889 to meet the growing demands of higher education in the country. CU now offers Master’s Degree programs to meet Liberia’s rising job market demand on seminal degree qualification.
In 1978, the William V. S. Tubman College (WVSTC) was also established, making it the second largest public tertiary institution in the country.
The aforementioned were the three recognized tertiary institutions operating in Liberia before the civil war which caused massive brain drain of many trained university professors and instructors, resulting in the high influx of bachelor degree holders teaching at these universities.
“Therefore, we are pleading to this National Legislature to mandate the Ministry of Education to allow all schools in our country to include within their curriculum vocational skills training such as but not limited to the following: Carpentry, Masonry, Mechanics (Auto and Heavy Duty), Electrical Study (Electrician), Electronic Study, Cosmetology, Hair Dressing, Arts and Crafts, Building Construction, Computer Science, Drafting , Agriculture, Catering (home economics), Tailoring, Baking, Interior Decoration, Plumbing, Secretarial Science, Journalism, Airline Ticketing and Counseling, etc,” the petition reads.
The petition said the dreams and aspirations of the Liberian people are rapidly decaying as a result of lack of basic skills to empower citizens economically.