Liberia: CSOs Urge Gov’t to Increase Education Budget

Liberia: CSOs Urge Gov’t to Increase Education Budget
Liberia: CSOs Urge Gov’t to Increase Education Budget

Africa-Press – Liberia. Top civil society organizations under the banner ‘Civil Society Activity’ (CSA) have called on the Liberian government to allocate a minimum of 20 percent of the national budget to the educational sector to assist in improving the learning conditions.

According to the group, a low budget for the educational sector gives rise to negative effects on student learning outcomes; therefore, they stressed the need for an increased budget for the country’s education sector.

The group comprises UMOVEMENT, the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), the Development Education Network Liberia (DEN-L), the Institute for Democratic Action and Development (IDAD), Integrity Watch Liberia (IWL), Survivors AID International Liberia (SAIL), the Institute for Policy Evaluation and Research (IPER), and the Youth Coalition for Education in Liberia (YOCEL).

Addressing journalists in Monrovia on Tuesday, February 13, the group said the state of the education sector in Liberia stands at a pivotal juncture, where the potential for a brighter future for the youth is impeded by persistent challenges encompassing school supplies, teacher remuneration, educational infrastructure, early childhood education, and insufficient budgetary support.

Siemon Wee, an executive of UMOVEMENT who read the group’s statement, said that even though the Liberian government acknowledges the paramount importance of education as enshrined in Article 6 of Liberia’s 1986 Constitution, guaranteeing equal access to educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens, substantive actions to address the escalating educational needs remain downplayed by state actors.

Ms. Wee said that despite the pledge by the Government of Liberia, in alignment with its commitments under the Incheon Declaration of 2015 and the Dakar Framework of 2000, to allocate a minimum of 20% of its national budget to the education sector, the government has steadily increased the Liberian education sector budget in recent years from 12% in FY2023 to 16%.

“The government has struggled to fulfill its obligations. We are advocating for a 20 percent increment in the education budget for FY 2024. Augmenting the education budget from its current allocation of 14 percent to meet the international standard of 20 percent, as stipulated by the Global Partnership on Education (GPE), will not only align Liberia with global best practices but also unlock additional funding opportunities to bolster educational initiatives,” she said.

“Notably, neighboring countries have surpassed this threshold, underscoring the imperative for Liberia to follow suit. In essence, advocating for an increase in the education budget to 20 percent aligns Liberia with international standards and unlocks additional funding avenues for the country,” Ms. Wee said.

Ms. Wee said investing in monitoring mechanisms empowers education stakeholders to track progress and drive meaningful improvements in the educational landscape, stating that “by prioritizing these initiatives, Liberia can foster a conducive environment for educational excellence and empower its citizens to thrive in the global knowledge economy.”

“As stakeholders deeply invested in the education system, we recognize the pressing necessity for policies to tackle critical issues concerning school supplies, teacher remuneration, educational infrastructure, early childhood education, and bolstering budgetary support for local education offices,” she argued. “This narrative aims to offer a concise overview of these challenges and set the groundwork for advocating for effective solutions and heightened budgetary allocations.”

Furthermore, she said the issue of irregular payment of teacher salaries, inefficient payroll systems, and a lack of accurate teacher data remains some of the major problems hampering the education sector.

Ms. Wee urged the government to conduct an audit of teacher data and implement an efficient, transparent payroll system that will ensure regular and timely salary payments. The group further stressed the need for an increase in teacher benefits and professional development.

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