Africa

Liberia: Following Violent Student Protests, University Extends Registration Process

The Administration of the University of Liberia (UL) on Monday announced in a meeting the extension of the registration process which has caused academic impediment
on its Fendell and Capitol Hill campuses in recent weeks.

Meeting of University Administrators and Government Officials

Meeting of University Administrators and Government Officials

Announcing this with students on the Fendell Campus, the president of the state institution Dr. Ophelia I. Weeks said in consultation with President George M. Weah and it was agreed upon that, that the registration process should resume for a period of one month.
The meeting was prematurely aborted due to reports from the university main campus on the Capitol Hill that students were seen protesting in continuation of their advocacy for the unconditional reopening of the registration process and demanding the resignation of the university president.

Students have been staging violent protests over the decision by the administration of the University to cut off registration of nearly 8,000 students for the academic year. The students are also calling for the resignation of the President of the University over the decision.

Speaking to the leadership of the student community and the student body, Dr.
Weeks disclosed that the government under the leadership of the former Football
icon President Weah has assured that they will not tolerate behavior that will taint the image of his administration though he promised to run a “pro-poor government.”

In a rather polite tone, the UL president cautioned that students of the university should be aware of the registration process and schedules to avoid behaving disorderly because according to her this could damage the image of Liberia to other partners who have interest in developing the educational sector of the country.

Dr. Weeks clarified that the Administration of the University has not denied any student from completing their registration process; adding that students at the state-run university are in the constant habit of causing unnecessary delays during
registration.

“Students need to behave orderly for us to have a better educational system because we are trying to provide an environment that makes us better prepared for the challenges out there,” she indicated.

Speaking on the impact of the civil conflict in Liberia, Dr. Weeks said since the end of the 15 years of war, Liberians have been trying to regroup and rebuild the university but the lack of funding has impeded the rebuilding process of the university.

She stated that the country is at the stage where students need to abide by schedules, the rule of law and principles because in Liberia when things happen over and over people think it is normal but “we need to remind ourselves that those things are not normal,” stating that these are some of things that are keeping our country backward.

In an interview after the pronouncement, University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU) Interim president Mawolo Flomo expressed disappointment in the decision of the administration of the university without stating any condition as per their demand for the unconditional reopening of the registration process.  The ULSU president condemned the act of the Liberia National Police (LNP) by manhandling their colleagues while they were peacefully protesting at the main campus of the University of Liberia on Capitol Hill.

Protesting University Students In Liberia

Protesting University Students In Liberia

He said the protest was in continuation of their recent call for the immediate
resignation of the president of the University of Liberia because according to him
she is not in the best interest of the student populace and as such she must
resign.

Interim President Flomo said though he lauded the reopening of the process
but he is still confused as to whether the over eight-thousand students will be absorbed for the 2017-2018 academic year.

According to him some of those students have already completed 90% of their
class activities including their mid-term exams and other class activities like
assignments, field trip etc.

Meanwhile, the reopening of the registration process will take effect on Wednesday with more details on the schedules of the registration to be announced later.

National Coat of Arms of Liberia

National Coat of Arms of Liberia

In a related development, the Government of Liberia has assured the University
of Liberia of its readiness to solve the institution’s registration problem which led
to student protest last Friday on two campuses of the university and parts adjacent.

The assurance to digitize and automate the University’s entire registration system and provide resources to upgrade the University’s ICT infrastructure to enable students and faculty to perform regular academic functions digitally was made at an emergency meeting of the Board of Trustees of the University of Liberia held Saturday afternoon, February 3, 2018, on the Capitol Hill campus.

Attending the Board meeting as special guests were very high profile Government
officials, including the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Hon. Nathaniel F.
McGill; the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Hon. Samuel D. Tweah
Jr; the Legal Advisor to the President, Counselor Archie Bernard and Minister of
Education-designate, Prof. D. Ansu Sonii.

By Lincoln Barcon in Monrovia