Monrovia-Feb-2-TNRLiberia’s Education Minister-designate, Dr. Jarso Maley Jallah as emphasized that the nation’s education sector is faced with complex challenges due to low budgetary support to the sector thus, undermining quality education.

Appearing for confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Education after her recent nomination by President Joseph Boakai, Dr. Jallah expressed concern over the current state of Liberia’s education sector over the years.

She noted that though President Boakai’s ARREST agenda-an acronym representing Agriculture, Roads, and Rule of law, Education, Sanitation and Tourism aims to give Liberians an advanced education system but such a goal is impossible without adequate budgetary support.

“Funding remains a major challenge, currently the national budget allocation to education lingers between 11%-14% annually, with the total percentage of government expenditure on education at 11.19%, coupled with government expenditure on education total (percentage of GDP) at 2.69%,” she stated.

Naming further challenges faced by the sector for consideration, the Education Minister-designate recounted that the current 2024 budget is estimated at US$41.672 million constituting nearly 15% short of 2023 appropriation of US$43.891 million while US$36.770 million was reported as actual spending.

Dr. Jallah noted that many teachers are untrained and lack adequate teaching and learning materials, adding that both students and teachers are forced to learn and work, respectively, in inadequate or dilapidated classrooms, with hardly enough learning or teaching materials.

“These conditions are worse and especially challenging in remote areas of the country, a situation which hinders teachers’ willingness to work in these areas, exacerbating the use of volunteer teachers which impacts the effectiveness of student learning,” she averred.

The Education Minister-designate also emphasized inadequate facilities, infrastructure and resources and over-age enrolment, which affect the effectiveness of learning and skill acquisition.

Dr. Jarso Maley Jallah said early childhood education (ECE) suffers from similar problems, creating a ripple effect through the entire educational system as well as low primary school completion rates and high proportion of out-of-school children, especially from poorer underserved and rural areas.

She stressed on low learning outcomes, inadequate and insufficient TVET infrastructure, including weak monitoring and supervision of schools and instruction.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jarso Maley Jallah has carved the Liberian Senate, if confirmed, to prioritize the sector by committing at least 20% of the national budget to the education sector.

“To realize our vision of an educated society, we as a people and government must increase public and private investment in education as a percentage of our GDP. This involves expanding government budget allocations to at least 20%, eliminating waste and ghost employees in the Ministry of Education, seeking increased bilateral support for scholarships and special projects, and exploring international grants and partnerships,” she said.

The Education Minister-designate wants the government to work closely with local and international partners to target job-creating sectors, which will provide formal, non-formal, and informal training that will equip the youth with the skills needed for economic growth and personal development.

According to her, the foundation of lifelong learning is laid in early childhood as such; the government must expand the training of specialized educators and services in this critical area to ensure a strong start for our youngest learners.

Commenting on improving the quality of primary education, Dr. Jallah noted that quality primary education is a cornerstone of the society.

“We aim to improve instructional standards, engage home and family support for learners, including those with disabilities and special needs, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive.

If confirmed by the Liberia Senate, the veteran educator promised to focus on strengthening learning outcomes in secondary education, especially in STEM subjects.

“We are committed to reducing the gender gap at all educational levels both in terms of student enrollment and teacher recruitment’ ensuring equal opportunities for all,” Dr. JarsoMaley Jallah asserted.

In closing, the Senate Committee Chair on Education, Senator Nathaniel McGill thanked and congratulated the nominee for her nomination and what he termed as her brilliant presentation, noting that the committee will subsequently submit its recommendations to Plenary to determine either the denial or confirmation of Dr. Jallah.

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