The Challenge for the AMEU Business Training Center
Since the 1980s this newspaper, the Daily Observer, has been urging the Business College of the University of Liberia (UL) to include Marketing as one of the key components of its curriculum. In the late 1980s we specifically invited the College’s Dean for discussions on this subject. The reason, we had been seeking a circulation manager specifically trained in marketing, but could find none. Several who applied from that college presented transcripts that had no Marketing on their grade sheets. But the dean insisted that marketing was taught, though through other subjects.
We reminded him that the nation’s commerce was entirely in the hands of foreigners; hence there was an urgent need to TEACH MARKETING not only at UL but in all high schools and vocational and technical training institutions.
We informed the dean that in Germany, students are taught Marketing in high school, so that by the time they are done with their secondary education, they are ready to go out and work in commerce, both in Germany and internationally. During their sojourn in high school, German youth are taught all about import and export, marketing psychology and good business practices--how to import, export and SELL; how to deal with customers, make them happy and cause them to return and buy more.
The Daily Observer conveyed these identical sentiments to Dr. Emmet Dennis shortly after he assumed the presidency of UL, and he intimated his desire to introduce entrepreneurial capacity training at the university. We commended him for that and suggested that in addition to the training, it would be a good thing to collaborate with government and development partners to empower Business graduates with small capital so that they would go out and start businesses.
These identical pieces of advice have been given to the authorities at Cuttington University.
This is why we applaud the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) for opening this week the Ezzat N. Eid Business and Continuing Education Center (BCEC). We commend, too, Liberia’s leading Lebanese entrepreneur, Ezzat Eid, whose interest in extending business education to Liberians led him to provide the funding for the BCEC at AMEU.
This is not the first time Mr. Eid has intervened to help our schools.
About two years ago he assisted W.V.S. Tubman High in establishing and equipping a technology training center where students learned computers, Carpentry, Electricity, Plumbing and other vocational subjects.
But it is not what we start but what we sustain and carry through to the finish. There are, unfortunately, indications that all is not going well with this program at Tubman High, which is a shame. There were many teachers in the beginning of the program, but a good number of them have dropped. The students often complained that teachers were often absent from classes, forcing many students, too, to drop out.
This is unacceptable. It demonstrates that too many of us in this country are simply not serious. That is one of the reasons our commerce is not in our hands, but in the hands of foreigners, people who are more serious-minded, more disciplined, more committed to their affairs and vocations, hence far, far more successful.
And here we are, complaining daily about “those foreigners taking our money out of the country” and blaming them in part for the fluctuation in the national currency. But who is to blame save ourselves?
We hope that AMEU president, Dr. Joe Isaac, and the entire faculty, staff and student body will take seriously Mr. Eid’s initiative and do everything possible to make the best use of it. This is the only way the students who pass through the program, will make a difference in business tomorrow, and begin to demonstrate that Liberians, too, can be successful businesspeople.
AMEU’s challenge, then, is to take this program very seriously, inspire its students to do the same, impart sharp business skills that will propel them upon graduation into business. Some may be motivated to establish their own businesses. Others may prove worthy of employment in middle or senior level positions in some of the leading foreign business enterprises.
We pray that all Liberian high schools will begin to teach Business courses in order to instill Business knowledge in our youth, with the aim of developing, at long last, an entrepreneurial class.