On October 17th, 2016, Madam Cooper publicly announced her candidacy for President of Liberia in the 2017 elections. Madam Cooper ran on a Five-Star Platform of Hope and Reform.
Free Education For Every Child
Educational progress in Liberia has suffered greatly over past decades. According to UNICEF, the literacy rate for boys is 63.5%, and 37.2% for girls. Adult literacy rate is 42.9% and the primary school net enrollment ratio is 41% – a significant socio-economic barrier.
Ms. Cooper’s Commitment: Improving the quality of education and fostering optimal learning conditions. Ms. Cooper will ensure that every Liberian child receives free education by tapping the country’s human, financial and material resources to insure that schools have qualified and well compensated teachers working in a safe and adequate environment.
Liberia faces widespread, multi-faceted health problems. More than 35% of healthcare costs are covered by patients. This burden is largely borne by the most vulnerable. In 2015, Liberia faced a 77% stock-out of essential drugs at its health facilities. Further exacerbating the healthcare situation is a severe shortage of healthcare professionals. The health sector and infrastructure further suffered from the recent Ebola epidemic which was contained thanks to remarkable efforts deployed on the ground by Liberians and from abroad by the international community, including entities from the People’s Republic of China.
Ms. Cooper’s Commitment: Expanding existing plans to introduce free and accessible healthcare. Ms. Cooper will ensure economic sustainability for this policy imperative. Additionally, equitable point-of-service, community-based and national strategies will promote enrollment in universal health insurance to underpin Ms. Cooper’s strong commitment to healthcare.
Electricity in Every Home
Fewer than 10% of Liberians have access to electricity. Liberia’s electric energy services are primarily provided by small, privately-owned generators, and domestic electricity tariffs are among the highest in the world.
Ms. Cooper’s Commitment: In addition to boosting the development of the energy sector, establishing and implementing policies encouraging more reliable and affordable connectivity and energy services. In particular, Ms. Cooper will expand electrical access in remote areas that aren’t likely to be connected to the national grid in the foreseeable future. Finally, relative to recent global climate change initiatives, Ms. Cooper will also promote nationwide use of renewable energy.
Ms. Cooper intends to enlist the support of international entities that would contribute to develop Liberia’s energy potential as a multiplier for the country’s growth.
Under Ms. Cooper’s presidency, decentralization will be key while a range of governance reform programs will be implemented. Despite consensus among stakeholders – politicians, government officials and civil society leaders – on the need to decentralize governance and service delivery, there remains deep divides on the scope, nature and timing of decentralization reforms.
Ms. Cooper’s Commitment: Advancing a system of good, democratic governance that accelerates socio-economic development, Ms. Cooper will promote and implement effective decentralization as an integral and necessary element of reform. Additionally, programs associated with the adoption and implementation of these reforms, including civic education and research will be supported by adequate human and financial resources.
Liberia is rich in remarkable natural resources, endowed with an urban-based elite and hardworking rural communities. However, the current land-tenure system continues to reflect decades old divisions among its population. Policies that once recognized customary ownership with full rights now recognize only usufruct rights of possession and use of undocumented customary claims. Consequently, indigenous communities have lost their source of food and livelihood, and the crux of their cultural heritage.
Ms. Cooper’s Commitment: Advancing self-governance and legal recognition of customary rights for indigenous groups, Ms. Cooper will also promote policy reforms, initiate land dispute resolutions and foster community forestry development to ensure fair, transparent and legal distribution of land. This critical issue has divided the country throughout its history, and the plight of indigenous groups is inextricably tied its resolution.