Mamadee Bangalee Sesay, Brooklyn Park, MN-Let me hasten to commend the effort of Brother Sheriff for carrying out his responsibility as Chairman of the Education Committee. Over the years, the education committee has been and continues to be the most vibrant of all committees in our federation.
It is no coincidence that this committee is the way it is; education is undeniably the principal reason FELMAUSA was founded, nonetheless it was absent from the agenda for the past four years. Regardless, members gravitate to any effort that keeps into focus the purpose for our coming together as a people.
In maintaining that confidence, whatever this committee does must be in line with the goal of assisting many of our brothers and sisters get access to education. Of course, it is never a bad thing to sponsor even a single student for the fact that a needy student is being helped.
However, considering the educational disparity in our community, sponsoring three students with the amount of money allocated for each student to me is an imprudent and unwise use of FELMAUSA’s resources.
Instead of spending all this money on two or three students, let us touch hundreds by expanding the list of recipients through the payment of tuitions and lab fees. Taking into account the amount needed per student per semester at the University of Liberia, and the total money that was raised, we can help lessen the financial burden for hundreds of students who are in dare need of our help to remain in school.
Just know that a graduate student at the University of Liberia needs L$3500 (Liberian Dollars) per semester, less than one hundred United States Dollars to sit in that classroom for one semester. (Click to see tuition breakdown at the UL) http://www.universityliberia.org/lu_registration.htm
It is therefore necessary that the bigger problem with this current process, its manner of implementation, must be brought to the public domain for discussion so that FELMAUSA cannot continue to make the same mistake and expect another result.
Firstly, the education committee is operating as if it is an autonomous branch by making decisions that must involve all the stakeholders. There are many things about this process the public knows very little about. If the committee is answerable to the executive, the community and board of directors, it must be held to that standard no matter how genuine her intentions.
I would therefore want to start this discussion by suggesting to Mr. Sheriff to present a proposal detailing his plan for the current awards being given to students in Liberia. He should answer some fundamental questions about who, what, where, when, how much and what if.
He should tell the stakeholders and the membership why he thinks sponsoring two or three students is more prudent than sponsoring one hundred students. He should also tell us how the selection was done for these students out of all the needy students and by whom. He should tell us about the announcement, application and review processes and how many students applied for this round of sponsorship.
As a result, those with responsibility to oversee these committees should not remain silent in the face of the present implementation and disbursement of the scholarship funds without their input. The executive must ascertain all that is going on because they have to answer to the public shortly. The board should summon the committee chair to get a full understanding of what exactly is going and the justification for these actions.
While it remains true that in four years this is the first time for students to be offered sponsorship by FELMAUSA to my knowledge, we can do much better by being opened with the process. Feeding us with bits and pieces cannot replace a transparent and inclusive process no matter how trustworthy we view the committee and its members.