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President George Weah declares free tuition for Liberian public universities

Liberia’s President George Weah has declared that the University of Liberia and all other Public Universities in Liberia will now be free for all undergraduates. Do you think this is feasible and can other African countries afford to offer free tertiary education?



George Weah

George Weah, Liberia’s 25th president announced that all  the undergraduates attending University of Liberia and all other public universities will not be required to pay tuition fees.

President Weah said: “We will never be successful, as a government, if we do not place more emphasis on the development of our human capital and, as such, we have to invest in quality education. I, President George M. Weah, on behalf of the Liberian people and the government, therefore declare free tuition at the University of Liberia and other public universities for undergraduate programs.”

Although President Weah’s pronouncement was met with jubilation, there seems to be no working plan on how the policy will be implemented. Weah’s statement came as a result of students protesting a hike in fees from $2 to $4 per credit hour. Liberia, like many other African countries doesn’t allocate a huge per cent of its budget to education. The 2018/19 draft budget allotted 14% to education. The recommended percentage every country is advised to allocate to education by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is 26%. Nigeria’s allocation to education in its budget for 2017/18 was 7.04%, one of the lowest on the continent.

Read: Can Ghana sustain its free education programme?


Nurturing young minds: The future of the continent hinges on access to education, the authors say (Photograph courtesy of Flickr/Oxfam East Africa)

Read: How to invest in girls’ education: Case studies from Ethiopia, Kenya and Zambia

President Weah told the protesting students, “I personally believe in education. Therefore, I feel that the constant drop out of students from the various schools is counterproductive.” Whether President Weah has a plan ahead that will sustain this promise is yet to be revealed.

The Vice President for University of Liberia Relations Att’y Norris Tweah told FrontPageAfrica:  “. . . the President is paying for the tuition for all of the students. This is going to be a direct income coming strict to the university. He is the game changer in term of financing of the university. For 20,000 students, if all of them take 15 credits per hour, I am just assuming, we will be talking approximately US$1.2 million that the government will be giving us for this number of students.”

While it’s more practicable that the government increases its budget allocation to the education sector, this solution by President Weah has earned him more supporters.