Higher Education Commission Cites Tertiary Education Improvements Under Sirleaf

PAYNESVILLE, Montserrado – As the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wraps up, the National Commission on Higher Education has announced that there have been a large number of improvements in the standards of tertiary institutions.

According to a publication from the Commission, at all 34 higher learning institutions currently operating in the country, there are 1,975 faculty members, a 36.5 percent increase from 2010.

According to the 2016 enrollment and faculty statistics, the number of faculty members with a bachelor’s degree has also grown from 434 in 2010 to 786 in 2016, a 44.8 percent increase.

In that span, faculty with master’s degrees has increased from 777 to 1025.

“While at the same time the number of faculty with earned terminal degrees has increased from 121 in 2010 to 126 in 2016, accounting for 4.0% increment,” the updates revealed.

Although it expressed the urgent need for faculty development at all levels of the subsector, bearing in mind that faculty development is an essential component of the academic success of individual faculty members and their institutions in the promotion of quality education, the NCHE said there are massive improvements in tertiary education.

The NCHE knows that the success of individual faculty members is essential in promoting quality education.

“Generally, the above statistics clearly show massive improvements in the qualifications of faculty at various HEIs across the country, contributing meaningfully to the quality of teaching and learning,” the NCHE release said.

It said in 2007, the Higher Education Sector was in transition and 51 universities and colleges were operating without a legal permit.

At the time, there were only eight tertiary institutions operating legally: the University of Liberia, Cuttington University, William V.S. Tubman Technical College (now Tubman University), the African Methodist Episcopal Zion University, the African Methodist Episcopal University, United Methodist University, Stella Maris Polytechnic and Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary.

According to the commission, 28 institutions operating illegally were closed down on the justification of having poor mission statements, lack of students service programs, limited library holding, unqualified instructional staff, lack of clear institutional policies, poor curriculum and instructional facilities and poor instructional materials and equipment.

Those affected included the Liberia University College in Paynesville, Christopolis University in Gardnerville, Monrovia University on Jamaica Road and the Liberia College of Professional Studies.

Eight online institutions were also closed down by the commission for lack of policy on distance education, non-relevant instructional materials, lack of institutional policies, and no means of monitoring instructional programs, online libraries, and qualified facilitators.

Poor technology also affected these institutions, which included St. Clement University, Concordia University, Virtual University, James Monroe University, Roberts Town University, Global and Adam Smith Universities and the St. Luke School of Medicine.

St. Clement University, however, has now reopened after satisfying the commission’s requirements, said Othello Nimley, the senior aide to the director of NCHE.

13 institutions which also met minimum requirements were given time to build their capacities to meet the requisite requirements, including the Monrovia Bible College, Liberia Christian College, Christian Theological Seminary, Lincoln College of Professional Studies, Leigh Sherman Community College, and Smythe Institute of Management and Technology. If they fail to meet the standards, they will face closure.

Nimley said most of these institutions have improved their facilities and are now considered able to operate. However, a few others, including Morris Community College, West Africa School of Mission and Theology, Liberia Bible Institute and International College of Business and Technology have all closed down by themselves.

The commission said under the Sirleaf administration, between 2008 and 2016, five community colleges have been established in Lofa, Grand Bassa, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Bomi. Additionally, the NCHE said the administration has elevated the Tubman Technical College to a full university and established the Harbel College and Bong Technical College as two four-year, degree-granting institutions.

The commission update report said between 2010 and 2016, the enrollment of females at institutions of higher education has also increased, thus improving the male to female ratio, which, in 2016, was one to one.

“The total enrolment in the higher education institutions sub-sector is 57,612,” the report said.

President Sirleaf, in her final State of the National Address on Monday, said the establishment and reconstruction of centers for higher education in the counties work in accordance with the government’s desire to make higher education more accessible throughout Liberia.

“However, our effort has not produced the desired results due to resource constraints and poor management,” Sirleaf said. “Moving away from what is reported to be the international trend, we now propose to make all Community Colleges campuses of the University of Liberia. This will be more cost-effective and will allow common rules and policies, under a common high leadership.”

Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah. [Full disclosure: The Bush Chicken’s parent company, Common Sense Solutions, Inc., provides a public relations consultancy to the Ministry of Education]

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2018, he was also recognized as the Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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