By Kingston S. Kolleh
The Principal of Booker Washington Institute (BWI), Attorney Harris Fomba Tarnue has announced a temporary increment in tuition effective 2020-2021 Academic Year.He made the disclosure recently during a major Press Conference on the campus in Kakata, Margibi County which was graced by Tutu Kumaninue, Chairman of the Parents Teachers Association (PTA), members of Principal Cabinet, the Elder Council among others.
The BWI Executive Officer (EO) informed the public that owing to the harsh economic situation that is prevailing in the country, the administration is compelled to announce a temporary increment in tuition for students as of 2020-2021 Academic Year.
He said that tuition for boarding Students has been increased to US$612 as compared to US$380 per school year while commuting or day Students whose tuition was previously US$123 has also been increased to US$244 per school year on a temporary basis respectively.
According to him, they conducted an in-depth analysis relative to educating a student at BWI which he stated that the exercise showed that over US$1000 is the realistic cost to educate a student whether boarding or commuting students saying, that based on that analysis, administration discovered a funding gap of US$750 per student and stressed the need to fund the gap in order to keep the school running saying that if the gap is not funded, the school may either close or some of its programs due to low funding to their operational budget.
“Considering the huge economic difficulties we are facing, we started several consultations with relevant stakeholders, like the PTA, Officials of the Ministry of Education (MoE) including the Board of Governors aimed at sourcing the relevant resources so as to fund the existing gap,” he indicated.
Mr. Tarnue further stated that because of the compelling need of funding the gap in order for the technical and educational wheels to remain in motion at the institution administration pleaded with the PTA through its Chairman to help fund the gap by providing 50% toward it and that after months of sustained deliberations the association unanimously agreed in principle to provide 30% toward funding the gap.
He intoned that the PTA took the decision after they thoroughly analyzed the financial situation on campus which he said triggered its decision and as such, the Principal described the current 2019-2020 Academic Year as critical in the historic of Liberia’s foremost Technical Vocational Educational (TVET) pointing out that they are operating under extreme difficult situation recollecting that government’s support in terms of actual receipts for goods and services for Fiscal Year, 2017-2018 was US$619,470.00; FY 2018-2019 amounted to US$325,459.00 while FY 2019-2020 was in the tune of US$56,000 notwithstanding he recognized that the current economic state of affairs in the country is not only unique to BWI which he attributed to the Coronavirus pandemic that has ravished and continues to ravish economies globally.
Despite the prevailing development, the Principal commended President George Weah, Ex-Officio of the Board of Governors for what he termed as his commitment to supporting the institution and maintained that the government is the highest supporter of BWI as per its statutory mandate because it pays the salaries of the employees and provide resources for other activities.
Commenting on their internal revenue generation activities, the EO boasted that his administration is saturated with farsighted managers against that backdrop they have step-up activities that are generating revenue which he admitted is buttressing the government’s effort when it comes to government budgetary support to BWI operations but clarified that the amount is inadequate to support the TVET Institution at full capacity considering the diversity of contemporary vocational technical educational programs that they are providing to the young people.
He however encouraged the BWI Family and others in the country to cooperate with the administration so that they can work together in furtherance of the mission of the entity which he believes can be achieved through concerted effort on the part of everybody and lauded development partners for their support.
Mr. Tutu Kumaninue stated that the association overwhelmingly agreed to pay thirty percent against the funding gap because of their children’s future adding that it will not augur well to see the school close due financial problem.
He then urged the government to put in place the necessary economic mechanism that will enable it respond positively to its statutory responsibilities by providing sound education for the citizens because the parents are also facing financial difficulties too.
“We will provide 30% toward the funding gap temporarily in order for the students to continue their learning process on campus,” he stressed.
According to him, the membership arrived at the decision after sustained meetings coupled with announcements on several local radio stations in the country before the resolution was adopted and signed by them.
Mr. Kemeninue however used the occasion to appeal to each and every member to respect the agreement and act accordingly as this is a temporary obligation informing his colleagues that the yearly tuition will be paid in four installments.