Last Saturday’s speaker at Cuttington University’s 53rd Commencement Convocation, Dr. Kenneth Y. Best (KYB), has challenged CU Administration to redouble her efforts to help that university forge ahead to establish more colleges in strategic disciplines.
This, he believes, would ensure that Liberia takes the great leap forward in agriculture, agro-industries, business, industry, manufacturing and technology.
He spoke on the theme, “Redeeming Liberia for Liberians,” to the over 500 graduates, their parents, well-wishers and an array of government officials as well as members of the Clergy attending the ceremony.
According to Dr. Best Cuttington should lead the way to revive Liberia’s vanishing culture by encouraging and enabling parents and the schools to teach their children to speak Liberian languages, and learn Liberian history and Liberian culture.
Cuttington, he said, must train historians and people of letters, who write and publish books and literature for our own academic requirements from kindergarten to university level, and put Liberia on the world literary map.
“In my humble view, the priority issue that outweighs anything on the long laundry list of problems to fix Liberia is our Education System,” said Dr. Best.
According to him, Liberia once had many strong academic institutions—the College of West Africa, which trained most Liberian leasers, St. Theresa Convent, St. Patrick’s, St. John’s, the Lutheran Training Institute, Bishop Ferguson High and the Booker Washington Institute.
Most of these schools were established my missionaries and many of the country’s luminaries on the national and world stage passed through those halls of learning and went forth into the world well prepared.
Unfortunately, Dr. Best said, the sheen of academic excellence began to fade once the missionaries left, and now many of those once famous schools “are on life support with crumbling and inadequate structures, lack of instructional materials and, most serious of all, critical shortage of qualified teachers and under-compensation of qualified ones.
“Many of our schools are overcrowded, lack books, laboratories, libraries and other learning materials, drinking water, toilets, recreational facilities,” Dr. Best observed.
Another sad aspect he observed on the education shelf, is that those young children who are not in school can be found on the streets, selling cold water, candy, etc. or in the markets and down waterside being breadwinners at age seven and up.
“Tens of thousands of our young people are loitering and languishing with no means of an education or skills training.”
The Commencement Speaker then called on the government to join forces with private citizens and willing partners to raise the funds needed to begin the work of building the country’s academic system from the foundation to make up the time lost by the youth during the civil war and as a result of our foolhardy neglect.
Yes, we can do this, he insisted. “We have the abilities and the intellect to design an education system that produces youth, men and women who love and fear God, love and support one another, are passionate about and committed to Liberia and to our families; an education system that imparts not only knowledge and skills, but also high moral values, good character, respect for the rule of law, work ethic, professionalism and integrity, a love for learning, critical thinking and the development of an inquiring mind that knows how to ask critical questions and work to find the answers.”