Public Statement by Professor Dr. Edward Lama Wonkeryor, on the Occasion of His Ascendancy to the Position of Director General, NCHE
Hon. Dr. D. Ansu Sonii, minister of education, Republic of Liberia, and chairman, Board of Commissioners, National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE), Republic of Liberia;
Honorable Members of the Board of Commissioners of the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE), Republic of Liberia;
Hon. J. Andrew Lablah, acting director general, and staff of the NCHE
Presidents of Public Universities and Colleges present here;
Chairman and Members of the Consortium of Public Universities and Colleges;
Honorable Members of the Legislature present here;
Honorable Members of the Judiciary present here;
Honorable Ministers and Deputy Ministers of Government present here;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps present here;
Leaders and Members of the Religious Community present here;
Associate Professor Edwin F. Kruah, vice president for Administration, and the Nimba University family;
Invited Guests and Prominent Citizens:
I warmly welcome you all!
I bring you compliments and warmest greetings from the Nimba University,
formerly Nimba County Community College!
Before I start, I like to offer a special ‘thank you’ to His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, president of the Republic of Liberia, for granting me the opportunity to serve as Director General of the National Commission on Higher Education, Republic of Liberia. Additional thanks to Professor Dr. D. Ansu Sonii, minister of education, and chairman, Board of Commissioners, NCHE; and, also, to the honorable members of the Board of Commissioners, NCHE, for given me the opportunity to serve in this capacity.
Substantively, I would like to thank Honorable J. Andrew Lablah, deputy director general for Quality Assurance and acting director general; Hon. Mehnpaine, deputy director general for Planning and Research; Professor David S. Dahn, former acting director general, and the entire staff at the National Commission on Higher Education, for the services they had rendered at the NCHE and continue to provide for the higher education institutions of Liberia.
As the newly appointed director general of higher education, I am very much pleased to work with my colleagues -- the leadership of the higher education institutions of Liberia -- to enhance quality learning and infrastructure development. It is my hope that all of us will work together in harmony to achieve these laudable goals.
I am quite mindful of the statutory duties of the National Commission on Higher Education. To recollect, the National Commission on Higher Education is the arm of the Liberian Government charged with statutory responsibilities to regulate the higher education sector and ensure the delivery of quality and relevant higher education outputs in Liberia. The NCHE was created in 1989 as an autonomous agency of government with the mandates to regulate, monitor, and accredit institutions of higher learning, and to establish broad-based policies aimed at ensuring quality higher education in the country.
Let me make it abundantly clear: during the first year of my administration, the National Commission on Higher Education will review the academic credentials of personnel, most especially, the teaching staff of our institutions of higher learning. We will also authenticate the accreditation of all the higher education institutions in Liberia. The undergirding objectives of this impending exercise are threefold: First, to root out underqualified instructors – particularly instructors who are pretending to be graduate degree holders. Second, to authenticate the professional and research experiences of the teaching staff. In my estimation, instructors in higher education must possess advanced graduate degrees as well as research and teaching competencies. Third, and finally, to ensure that institutions of higher learning met the prescribed requirements set by the NCHE, prior to their individual operations.
Thank you largely, Dr. Sonii, for your wise educational and democratic leadership as well as the holistic dedication and commitment of your staff that fostered the capacity of the various higher education institutions to participate in E-Learning. Such unique technology has manifested in the growing realization that, to enhance the rebuilding project of Liberia along the lines of democracy and free market economy, higher education institutions should embrace the Internet technology, including E-Learning. We welcome this Internet technological enfranchisement for our higher education institutions and will work hard for its continuance.
According to a recent Workforce Analysis of the NCHE, the activities of the NCHE have been built around three thematic pillars. First, creating access to higher education opportunities. Second, promoting quality in higher education. And, third, making higher education outputs relevant to national development. Considerable progress has been made in providing access, with 49 institutions now licensed and accredited around the country. The institutions include nine master’s degree-granting institutions, 21 baccalaurate degree-granting institutions, and 23 faith-based institutions. The public institutions comprise two master’s degree-granting institutions, three bachelor’s degree institutions, and six associate’s degree-granting institutions. The institutions are spread around 10 counties across the geopolitical regions of the country, including Bomi, Bong, Grand Bassa, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, and Sinoe Counties (Workforce Analysis, NCHE 2021). To effectively and efficiently regulate and monitor these indicated institutions of higher learning in the country, the human resource capacity must be strengthened and budgetary allocations to the National Commission on Higher Education must be increased by the policymakers and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.
The 2021 Workforce Analysis by the National Commission on Higher Education has identified the manpower gaps, pointing to the need to recruit additional 26 staffs in various positions to make the Secretariat robust in its regulatory activities. As well, the shortage of operational vehicles is acutely hindering the fulfillment of the National Commission on Higher Education’s statutory responsibilities (Workforce Analysis, NCHE, 2021).
Again, it is indeed an honour for me to be given the mantra of the National Commission on Higher Education of the Republic of Liberia. I am exceedingly delighted to be given the honour to serve in this capacity. As regards the management of higher education system in our country, I will work hard, to the best of my ability along with my colleagues in the leadership of higher education, for the success of the present and future generations of Liberia.