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Civil society organizations are lobbying legislators to increase the education budget

The Education Advocacy Coalition recently wrapped up a meeting with lawmakers to call for an increase in the national education budget from 16.3 percent to 20 percent.

The coalition, made up of organizations such as UMovement, Integrity Watch, Institute for Democratic Africa and Development, IREDD and YOCEL, funded by USAID through the Civil Society Activity (CSA), aimed to push for an additional 3.7 percent in the education budget.

The proposed budget increase, from $105,957,481 to $129,975,393, is intended to lead to several improvements in the education sector. These include placing 6,000 teachers on the government payroll (2 per school), providing school supplies to 2,813 schools (US$2,600 per school) and improving school facilities for 2,813 schools ($1,298.7 per school).

The meeting was attended by several key figures including Grand Bassa County Senator Gbehzohngar Milton Findley; Moima Briggs Mensah, representing Bong County Constituency No. 6; Senator Francis Dopoh, River Gee; and the co-chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Education, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Education.

Senator Findley expressed concern about the quality of education following the increase and emphasized the need for advocacy for better education standards. He highlighted challenges such as a lack of qualified teachers in certain areas, leading to inadequate education provision.

“Advocating for growth is good, but you also have to emphasize quality, especially quality teachers and classrooms,” Findley said. “We have a complex situation where even with the 20 percent you still have challenges. You have to train teachers. There are some villages where ninth graders teach sixth grade.”

He added that many villages do not have qualified teachers to teach students, which sometimes leads to empty classrooms. He urged the Ministry of Education to work with executives to ensure more money is allocated to the budget.

Liberia faces challenges with limited resources allocated to the education sector, resulting in challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, insufficient teachers and poor learning conditions for students.

The groups proposed solutions such as centralized purchasing with transparency measures and setting up efficient distribution systems to address these challenges.

The lawmakers, including Rep. Moima Briggs Mensah, vowed to work towards achieving the 20 percent budget allocation. They recognized the importance of improving the education sector and pledged to work with their colleagues to achieve this goal.