The Education committee’s report was released on Tuesday, May 9, 2019 at the 29th day sitting of the Liberian Senate in its second session of the 54th National Legislature. According to the report, which was concluded as a result of excerpt from UL authorities, there was no consultation with the authorities of the UL and other tertiary institutions before said pronouncement was made by the President.
The investigation was triggered by an official letter written by Grand Bassa County Senator, Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, to the Plenary of the Liberian Senate, in which she requested plans and strategies, as well as sources of the President’s pronouncement concerning the “Free Tuition Policy” of undergraduate students of public universities and colleges in the country. Plenary is the highest decision making body of the Liberian Senate.
Upon the receipt of Sen. Lawrence’s letter, dated January 21, 2019, the Statutory Committee on Education and Public Administration was mandated to invite the Ministers of the Ministries of Education, Finance and Development Planning and the President of the UL to present a plan and further explain strategies for the free tuition program.
But both ministers failed to appear on separate occasions; only UL authorities appeared and provided details on the hindrances the policy would cause in the absence of money and proper guidelines. Accordingly, the Senate’s Education Committee, in its findings, pointed out that since the pronouncement, no policy, guidelines or strategies have been developed and or presented to the administration of the UL and most certainly, other public tertiary institutions.
The Committee observed that the pronouncement has created gap in the revenue generating capacity of public tertiary institutions. “If there is no immediate intervention, it has the proclivity to undermine the smooth and effective running of all tertiary institutions,” the committee alarmed.
Amid the findings, the Committee also made several recommendations, one of which is to invite Minister Samuel D. Tweah, Minister of Finance and Development Planning and Education Minister Ansu Sonii. “We recommend that that a dialogue is required among executive actors and the two committees of both Houses to provide a clear picture of this exercise that will forestall, any situation that could derail the learning process,” the Committee recommended.
The Committee also recommended that MFDP intervene swiftly to mitigate any shock due to revenue loss from the various public tertiary institutions. The Senate’s Education requested that the source of funding that engendered the pronouncement be made available to the Legislature to encourage smooth sailing of the decision.
Among other things, the Liberian Senate through its Committee on Education recommended that a comprehensive policy on the financing of the tertiary institutions be developed and approved by the National Legislature inasmuch as it has appropriation powers under the Constitution.