The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

A Dutch Educator Describes Education Sector A Disgrace —-Calls for 80% National Budget Allotment to Education

A visiting Dutch Educator Mr. Wouter Vander Schaaf wants the Weah led administration prioritize education..
Mr. Wouter Vander Schaaf, a visiting guest of the National Teachers Association of Liberia NTAL spoke to journalists Saturday January 25, 2020 at NTAL’S Headquarters in Sinkor shortly after the conference cautioning President George M. Weah to increase the budget for education from 15% to 45% in the National Budget of the Country.
Mr. Schaaf said since his arrival, his assessment of the educational sector has shown that the sector was in complete shamble. He pointed out that lots of students were sitting on the bare floor without chairs and other basic school materials for the smooth learning of the kids. He lamented that public schools in the country are not well taking care of by National Government.
In a stake comparison of 4.5% GDP for education in Netherlands which accounts for about 13 percent of the country, Liberia on the other hand ranked far below the threshold with less than 22 percent for education in her National Budget. According to his assessment the government of neighboring Sierra Leone allocated 22 percent to education in her National Budget. Based on the number of teachers and straggling growth in the population of school going kids of 50%, he is asking government for 80 percent in the National Budget to be given to education as it is done in other African countries.
Mr. Schaaf was also keen about the lack of growth in the country’s economy. He said it was beyond belief that little funding would be given to education in Liberia. He frowned on business people who are involved in logging, mining and other sectors that could strengthen the economy of invading taxes, at the same time extracting the resources from the country and failing to meet their tax obligations. He called for government to put its feet down on those businesses engaged in tax invasion by using the judicial system; adding “No country in the world can carry on development, if that country cannot collect lawful taxes.” He stressed that taxes collected by government should be used properly so as to benefit the citizenry of the country.
Making reference to ‘Teachers training’, Mr. Wouter Vander Schaaf, also a teacher of the Netherlands Teacher Union challenged the government of Liberia to prioritize training more qualified teachers and at the same time provide incentives that would make them attracted to the profession: “Pay the teachers well so as to alleviate the current economic constraints they are faced with in Liberia.”
Mr. Schaaf who is also a writer and classroom teacher in the Netherlands demanded that every teacher should have a living wave or salary that will commensurate with their living standard not under pay salary that will make him to seek for two jobs while teaching in the classroom. He observed that a huge chunk of the teachers in the country are teaching both in public and private school because of salary from a single school, as a result they will have to stressed themselves to earn an income that will keep them up. He said the more government pays public school teachers an attractive income, the most committed the teachers are going to be on the job.
He furthered that more than six thousand Liberian teachers are still on what is described as volunteer teachers’ payroll of the national government waiting eagerly to be placed on the Ministry of Education payroll, he said the refusal of the government to place these public school teachers on the MOE payroll is not building strong education sector. “I visited a teaching college in Sierra Leone and saw lots of enthusiasms in students becoming teachers because the salary and incentives teachers receive, but it is not in the case of Liberia. Teachers in Liberia are treated as unskilled people and paid less salary.
Accordingly, it should be the responsibility of the government to make teachers proud by paying according to the profession he said investing in education is the best investment in economic of every country.
Mr. Wauter Vander Schaaf said his visit to Liberia twice is to work with his colleagues like the National Teachers Association of Liberia-NTAL in 2002 and 2007.
He said his first visit to Liberia in 2002 with the delegation from Demark to Liberia was to access the impact that the war have the educational sector in Liberia. He said the work of the NTAL was a tremendous help to the Liberian teachers. He said 2007, he came back to Liberia and fine out that the teachers union- NTAL was coming together with the reality of the day.
Mr. Schaaf said the former NTAL Official Michael Flomo was dynamic with the teachers trying to rebuild the union. He said the work of Madam Flomo was in the interest of the Teachers and Education workers of union.
The former education international staff indicated that the building in which the NTAL was using was in a little dark place without running water for the staff to used.
He said his coming to Sierra Leone and Liberia is to find out what happened to the both countries education systems. He said during his recent visit to Sierra Leone he spend (6) six days to study about their education challenges.
He said his visit to Liberia in January of 2020 firstly was to ascertain the efforts that have been made by the teachers body of Liberia by the NTAL’s which according to him is tremendous and needs commendation by all well meaning Liberians and foreign nationals visiting the country. He said the taxes collected from the NTAL teachers is used in the interest and well being of the teachers and the organization benefits.
Speaking to journalists at the National Teachers Association of Liberia Headquarters in Sinkor Saturday January 25, 2020, the educator said population is growing fast schools overcrowded, and we see the private sector is largest than the government sector when it comes to the education with government paying attention to the government schools in Liberia.
He added that he thinks is something serious that need to be addressed by the national government.
He said the government should make it their responsibility by providing public education for all. He said known the finances for the government to pay and meet with these obligations is budding on the government.
He said at the same time see that the privatization in the education sector of the country will not benefit the people, he said it divides the people; especially, those that cannot afford education or sending their children to private institutions in Liberia.
Speaking further on Liberia post war education sector, Mr. Wouter Vander Schaar pointed out that in the long run the neglect of education in the country by national government is not good for the country.
The visiting Netherlands educator told this paper in an exclusive interview on Saturday January 25, 2020 mentioned that first class citizens and second class citizens.
He thanked the teachers union for trying to address the issues of public schools teachers, he about the system that new partners came to pay, the so-called bridge and others who try to take over the schools who have giving schools to play their games as the core business sis to change the war of teaching, which he said in not in the best interest of the students that bridge is offering in the Liberian education system something he said is not helping the children to get sound education.
He however cautioned the national government that the procedure introduced by bridge and other partners is not about quality education but rather to explore government of huge economic resources from the government of Liberia and at the same time get donor funding’s for their selfish gains.
He said the poor education system should not be blamed on the absent of teachers from the classrooms, he said the issue should be how can we manage the teaching process in such a way that the teachers need to stay in the classrooms to expose and the country can make use of them.
He emphasized that in his view that Liberia is a testing ground for the way of educating but he said it is not ready educating or training teachers.
Mr. Schaaf intimated that teaching the children to acquire the basic skills that will impact their lives positively as a good citizens that would help to contribute towards national building of their country, Liberia.
He said the government does not, have the capacity monitoring and will power of supervision of schools throughout the country that bridge and other partners is managing. He said bridge is just a name, but who behind bridge is just a big digital tarcon superbuge facebook organization that came to Liberia to explore money from the Liberian government to stratify their selfish gains but they are not in Liberia to help the citizens with affordable education. He said the group is a computer company, he said what the do is to store the way to teach though the tablet which the teachers have to follow scuperly step-by-step on top of that the teachers have monitor from outside the school which is not helping both the teachers and the students.
He said bridge is a name something that is quasade and bridge is using Liberia as a testing ground and at the end everybody become the loser.
The former education international and the Netherlands teachers unionist said first of all the education system in Liberia is a and yes Liberia has many poor people in this country and also there are other weaty people in Liberia “23 people said it cannot go on let this” we the weaty people should pay taxes so in the public sector government can do job in the proper way. There is important saying, when the rich people avoiding taxes but rather government should make sure that they pay their taxes to help government improve the living standard of the Liberian people.
He said the paying of taxes is a public service that every one need to do for the upliftment of their country Mr. Mouter Vander Schaaf said poor people cannot pay must taxes but rich people should contribute toward the generation of the national cake or national budget.

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