By Joseph S. Sherman, Washington, DC
Monday March 27, 2006
Recent incidents surrounding over 1,000 students at the University of Liberia dubiously graduating without fulfilling requirements for graduation in the recent commencement ceremonies, cast a shadow of doubt as to the quality of workforce post-war Liberia is producing at this crucial time. Dishonesty and fraud in Liberia’s educational system is an impediment to the socio-economic and political development of the country. Besides this latest incident, it has also become a hard, cold fact that fraudsters in collaboration with unscrupulous Liberians have infiltrated the educational system in order to make money.
Short-cuts to achieving education and training without going through the proper channel produces mediocre and an unproductive workforce, which subsequently yields corruption, ignorance and apathy in society. To saveLiberia from relapsing to these vices, the government of Liberia and the Ministry of Education should set up a commission to investigate this issue thoroughly in order to save the credibility of the country’s educational institutions from international disrepute.
Education fraud is a serious problem; it creates a lot of harm and damages to the socio-economic development of a country. Human resources perceived to be the bedrock of a nation’s development will be polluted and disoriented because of the series of misrepresentations designed by dishonest and fraudulent students to deceive employers.
Providing quality education to every Liberian is central to strengthening democracy and promoting development in the country. Therefore, President Sirleaf’s government must do everything possible to protect this social sector because it occupies a central place in Human Rights and is essential and indispensable for the exercise of development. None of the civil, political, economic and social rights can be exercised by individuals unless they have received quality education.
How can this be accomplished in Liberia when certain individuals have taken short cuts to acquire and issue bogus credentials to the detriment of the nation and its workforce? The government of Liberia should initiate a campaign not only to restore Liberia’s international image but also to clean up the country of educational fraudsters. This could be done by developing an anti-fraud education policy and culture which ensures that educationally prudent measures are taken. Encourage a whistle-blowing philosophy in all learning institutions in the country, so that all suspicious credentials from so-called foreign Universities or institutions are scrutinized to the fullest, and finally the Ministry of Education should take hard line on culprits, give a clear message that they will be caught or prosecuted in a competent court of law.
About the author: Joseph S. Sherman (MIP, MSA) was former broadcaster at the ELCM Community Radio. He is now Director of a Multi-Cultural Adult Education Center in Washington, DC