COTAE: Education Must Be Publicly Funded, Not Privatized

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COTAE National Coordinator, Anderson Miamen

The Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education (COTAE) has emphasized the need to public-fund education and increase budgetary funding for the education sector, as opposed to privatization.

   Anderson D. Miamen, National Coordinator, COTAE, at a one-day training workshop to increase stakeholders’ knowledge about the Abidjan Principles and key issues related to fulfilment of the right to education in Liberia, held at Murex Plaza, 10th Street, told the participants that education is a multiplier right, and the need for government to take responsibility to fund the sector cannot be overemphasized.

   Miamen quoted Article 6 of the 1986 Constitution, “The Republic shall, because of the vital role assigned to the individual citizen under this Constitution for the social, economic and political wellbeing of Liberia, provide equal access to educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens to the extent of available resources. Emphasis shall be placed on the mass education of the Liberian people and the elimination of illiteracy.” He said this article runs parallel to the Abidjan Principles, which are literally the guiding principles on the human rights obligations of states to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education. He spoke on the topic, “Understanding the Abidjan Principles: Key Issues and the Roles of the Media and Civil Society in its Implementation and Monitory”.

   The Abidjan Principles are made up of 97 guiding principles, and maintained that states must respect, protect and fulfil the right to education of everyone within their jurisdiction in accordance with the right to equality and non-discrimination. It also provides that states must prioritize the funding and provision of free, quality public education, and may only fund eligible private instructional educational institutions, whether directly or indirectly, including through tax deductions, of land concessions, international assistance and cooperation, or other forms of indirect support, if they comply with applicable human rights law and standards and strictly observe all substantive, procedural and operational requirements.    Speaking on the topic, “Understanding International and National Treaties, Conventions, Law and Policies on Human and Peoples Rights, with Emphasis on the Right to Education”, the Coordinator of the Civil Society Human Rights Platform of Liberia, Adama Dempster, noted, “When you invest in education, you reduce unemployment; when you invest in education, you reduce the level of illiteracy and boost the economic condition of the citizenry.”

Dempster discussed a number of international treaties that Liberia is a signatory to, and emphasized on article 15 (b) of the Constitution which, he said, many people do not consider. Article 15 (b) states, “The right encompasses the right to hold opinions without interference and the right to knowledge. It includes freedom of speech and of the press, academic freedom to receive and impart knowledge and information and the right of libraries to make such knowledge available. It includes non-interference with the use of the mail, telephone and telegraph…”

   The Deputy Minister for Planning and Research, Ministry of Education, Alton V. Kesselly, who also spoke on the topic, “Overview of Liberia’s education Sector: Key Policies and Frameworks, Financing Trends, Key Programs, etc.”, provided a clear picture of the challenges and achievements of the education sector. He noted that the administration of President George M. Weah is committed to providing education to every citizen. He said, “While government leads the effort to providing education, everyone has a part to play.”

Dep. Min. for Planning and Research, Min. of Education, Alton V. Kesselly

Lakshmi Moore, Country Director, ActionAid Liberia, also spoke on the topic, “Understanding Privatization and its Implications for Fulfilment of the Right to Education in Liberia, especially for Women, Youths, Children, Minority Groups and Persons with Special Needs”.

   According to Director Moore, government can only uphold its responsibility to providing equal education opportunity to its citizens if it funds public education, because only then will it have complete control on how public education is dispensed.

   The one-day workshop brought together about 25 journalists from print and electronic media institutions, and concluded with COTAE’s Coordinator, Miamen, distributing a copy of the Abidjan Principles to each participants. It was held on Wednesday, November 19, 2020.

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