The University of Liberia is one of Liberia’s highest institutions for academic learning, and one of Africa’s oldest. Formally Liberia College from 1862 to 1951, the University, in Liberia’s post war era, faces many challenges at its infrastructural, faculty, and academic levels.
Currently, the University has about 15,000 students both at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and more students are patiently awaiting admission for next academic semester. There are five colleges and three professional schools. Among the five colleges, the College of Science and Technology has been the most disadvantaged college since the outbreak of the 14 years civil war in Liberia which ended in 2003.The technological aspect is totally lacking.
The college is located on the Fendall campus, an annex to the University, which is a 45 minute drive north of Monrovia. Its location is ideal for students pursuing careers in the sciences. There are eight departments with nine disciplines which include: Biology, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mining Engineering, Geology, Mathematics, Physics, and Zoology.
Students majoring in these disciplines are faced with a lot of challenges as the college has been under funded and lack of a strong faculty since the course of the civil war. There have been no adequate research facilities such as laboratories, libraries, IT center and so forth. Learning at the college has been one of the most difficult experiences. Some courses are being taught without the required text materials or labs. And one of the most frustrating things is the poor and unhealthy science labs at the college. The chemistry labs, for example, have been operating for the past five years without simple materials such as Bunsen burners, distillation sets, analytical balances, quality laboratory grade chemicals, and safety materials. In this modern time, instead of Bunsen burners, we have been used to using COAL-POTS to conduct experiments, and one of the many disadvantages to the use of COAL-POTS is that temperature regulation is completely out of control. What a sad thing! Recently, two professors, Dr. Shem Wadinga and Dr. Geofrey Kamau, from Kenya and South Africa respectively, were hired by the Ward Educational Fund to come and assess the needs of the Department of Chemistry at the University. Here is a link to their assessment report: http://www.universityliberia.org/ul_news_2_09.htm. The Ward Educational Fund (http://www.thewardfund.org/) is a Liberian owned organization in memory of the late Prof. Victor E. Ward, Liberia’s first chemist who was killed by rebels in Liberia in the early 90s.
he frustrations, the over stay at the University coupled with the present economic hardship cannot divorce us from learning. We believe that we are the Lux in Tenebris (Light in Darkness) in Liberia’s road to national recovery. Liberia needs chemists, physicists, engineers, doctors and geologist to help build its national systems of order. That is why we have been burning our mid-night candles, deriving the Schrödinger’s wave equation, and demonstrating the phenomena of Newtonian and Quantum Mechanics, the bifurcation theory and the magical theory of relativity by Albert Einstein. As the song writer says, “Though we burn a million candles, we still read on”. We cannot divorce learning from life. We are patiently enduring the pains as we wait on the University to regain its pre-war status and be counted again among the best Universities in Africa. We believe this can happen!
Again, the future looks very bright for us as our new president, Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, a parasitologist and a former dean at Rutgers University, sees the Science College as one of his major priorities within the next few years. Dr. Dennis seems to be very promising as his relationship with the student populace strengthens day-by-day. During his inauguration, he promised to make the University of Liberia ‘A Student Centered Institution’. Also, with the construction of the new University by the Chinese Government, which will be turned over to the Liberian Government by April 2010, there is light at the end of the turner.
We can make it happen; just give us the tools!