A very good start, now let’s get to work UpCountry!
Liberia: Ellen Impressed With Chinese-Built Schools
The Informer (Monrovia)
27 May 2009
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has dedicated three high schools constructed by the Chinese government in Bomi and Montserrado counties, describing them as a fulfilled promise.
Speaking Monday at the dedicatory ceremonies, President Johnson Sirleaf said Government will continue to strive to provide affordable and quality education that is accessible to all citizens throughout the country.
The Liberian leader described the dedication of the schools as a fulfillment of some of the promises made to the Liberian people – that education will reach, particularly, those who have been neglected.
In an apparent reference to the dedication of a newly constructed high school in Suehn Meca district, the President said too often development in the area did not benefit the people of Suehn Meca district due to its inaccessibility. “I am delighted that this time, the people of this district, are part of the process,” she emphasized.
The President said the provision of quality education remains at the center of Government’s national development objective, and will continue to ensure that resources are provided to meet that objective.
The Liberian leader praised the partnership between Liberian and its development partners, particularly China and the United States, for their continuous support toward Government’s development agenda. “They have responded to our agenda needs…the schools they are building is responding to what we have planned,” the President asserted.
The schools, President Sirleaf said, were built in response by China, to Government’s agenda needs, in line with Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS), which remains at the center of the development agenda of the country.
Liberia’s PRS articulates the Government’s overall vision and major strategies for moving toward rapid, inclusive and sustainable growth and development during the period 2008-2011.
The PRS will be implemented between April 1, 2008 and June 30, 2011 (the end of the 2010/2011 fiscal year). This period is of critical importance as Liberia shifts from post-conflict stabilization to laying the foundation for inclusive and sustainable growth, poverty reduction, and progressing toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the PRS paper states.
The donor-dependent US$1.6bn program is crafted with four major pillars including enhancing peace and national security, governance and the rule of law, economic revitalization and rehabilitation of infrastructures and delivery of basic social services.
Revitalizing and improving the educational system are central under the PRS.
The President acknowledged that schools have not yet been built in many places around the country, but noted that progress has been made in the construction of schools in several parts throughout the country. “We will continue on that path until we reach all the Liberian children,” the President noted.
The Liberian Chief Executive also spoke of other development projects throughout the country, including the construction of the Bopolu-Belle Yella Road, urging citizens and officials of counties benefitting from the projects to maintain and protect them to enable Government attract more assistance to their communities.
“The facilities now belong to us; it is up to us to keep them; to maintain them properly; to protect them and used them properly for the good of the children,’ the Liberian leader admonished a cheering crowd during the dedicatory ceremonies.
Chinese Ambassador, Zhou Yaxiao, whose country aided the construction of the schools, said the construction was in fulfillment of his Government’s promised during the China-Africa Cooperation Summit in Beijing, at which time China pledged to build 0ne-hundred schools in Africa.
“If that in our figure is equally distributed, then Liberian would get two instead of three, but with the extra effort made by Madam President and myself and the Chinese embassy here, Liberia got three,” Ambassador Zhou recalled.
Ambassador Zhou praised President Johnson Sirleaf’s insistence to have one of the schools built in rural Liberia despite the embassies reluctance to do so, given the cost and difficulties involved in transporting construction materials away from Monrovia.
The Chinese ambassador described education as a key to sustainable development, pledging his Government’s continuous support to the educational sector of Government’s national development.
Areas benefitting from the newly constructed schools are Suehn-Meca district, in Bomi County, the New Georgia Community and the Kendeja/Rehab Community in Montserrado County.
Meanwhile, the newly constructed New Georgia High School has been named in honor of the founding father of the Liberia Unification Party, the late William Gabriel Kpolleh.
Announcing the decision, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the naming of the school in the late Kpolleh’s memory was intended to honor his memory for his sacrifices and dedication toward the educational development of the country.
The late William Gabriel Kpolleh was a school teacher, who taught in Bong and Montserrado Counties, before entering politics in 1985, to contest general and Presidential elections. He was reportedly killed when the civil crisis erupted in Liberia in 1989.
President Johnson Sirleaf is reported to have recommended that the school be named in the late Kpolleh’s honor, resisting an offer to have it named in her honor.
Accepting the honor, Madam Rosetta Kpolleh, who, along with other family members travelled to Monrovia for the event, thanked the President for the recognition bestowed on her late father, and extended heartfelt appreciation on behalf of the Kpolleh family for the noble gesture.
Under the PRS program the government hopes to increase access to quality education by building more schools across the country, equipping them with modern libraries, better sanitary conditions and well as safe drinking water.
Under one of the strategic objectives in the implementation matrix, the PRS seeks to expand access to quality, safe, and hygienic schools. It promises to build 240 primary classrooms (40 schools) and 54 secondary classrooms (4 schools); repair 200 primary class rooms (33 schools) and 72 secondary classrooms (6 schools); construct 14,150 chairs and 82 well water wells with hand pumps.
However most of these are yet to be done and the need for them are dire, but students of the dedicated schools will now learn in a very conducive environment, not worrying about rain or sun like most of their colleagues in other government schools across the country.
Copyright © 2009 The Informer.