Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has inducted Education Minister George Kronnisanyon Werner into the Order of the Star of Africa, at the level of Grand Commander.
A release said Minister Werner’s honor was in recognition of the significant achievements he has made while working within the Government of Liberia.
The release recalled that when Werner took the helm at the Ministry of Education in 2015, he inherited an education system devastated by years of civil war and further crippled by the deadly Ebola outbreak in 2013.
In the wake of these catastrophes, Werner is said to have led bold reforms, including the “Getting to Best” program, which set a vision for ensuring that all Liberian children have access to free, quality education.
“As one of his first steps, Werner led an ambitious program to remove “ghost teachers” from the Ministry’s payroll, vetting the 16,000-teacher workforce and freeing up US$3.1 million for reinvestment in the education system,” the release noted.
He also launched the innovative Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) initiative, leveraging the experience of both local and international education providers to deliver quality education for 50,000 of Liberia’s children.
At the end of the first year, PSL schools had a teacher in every classroom, compared to 4 missing teachers in the average Liberian school which translated to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that teachers were in school.
Students also learned 60 percent more than students at other public schools. Moreover, classroom sizes decreased while enrolment has increased.
Now in its second year, PSL has the potential to serve as a model for how to innovate and improve education at scale, not only in Liberia, but more widely for Africa and beyond.
Prior to being appointed Minister of Education, Werner served as Director General of the Civil Service Agency.
During this time, Werner was an instrumental figure in implementing the Public Sector Modernization Project, with US$11.5 million funding from the World Bank, SIDA, and USAID.
As Liberia’s top civil servant, he ran a team focused on payroll reform, institutional mandate and function review, and capacity development of the civil service.
He is credited with reducing Liberia’s bloated civil service by 3,500.
A skillful resource mobilizer, Werner successfully secured US$11.9 million Education Sector Program Implementation grant from the Global Partnership for Education to execute the Education Sector Plan.
Werner is also a member of the Global Partnership for Education Board of Directors, representing Gambia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, and South Sudan. Additionally, he serves as a member of the United Nation Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Health Employment and Economic Growth, alongside Jacob Zuma, Mohamed Yonis, and others.
The education minister is the current chair of the Government of Liberia’s Bilateral and Capacity Building Scholarships Program, a post he has held since 2011. Under his tenure, he focused the program on emphasizing merit, transparency, and gender mainstreaming. At least 512 Liberians have benefitted from the program.
Additionally, Werner is the co-chair of Liberia’s Health Workforce Development Taskforce and a member of the board of directors of Liberia’s largest public hospital, John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital.
Werner earned an MA in social work from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in General Education with Religious Studies from Marist College, now the Catholic University of East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya.
He served as a research fellow in Leadership Education in Neuro developmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Werner also worked as a Clinical Coordinator at Resources for Human Development, a diversified, US-based human services non-profit with more than 160 programs in 15 states.