The Deputy Controller at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Kerlie Miller, has urged parents and teachers to pledge their unflinching commitment towards building the divine qualities, including honesty, truthfulness and love, in the children of Liberia.
During the graduation exercise of the Joseph G. Cooper Memorial Elementary and Junior High School in Sinkor, Mr. Miller emphasized the need to build the characters of children and students so that they will become better citizens for a better Liberia.
He spoke on the theme “The Ingredients that Contribute to Early Child Development,” urging parents and teachers to focus on building their children’s divine qualities for a better Liberia.
“Firstly, parents should teach the children love, honesty and truthfulness and the difference between right and wrong. When teaching these values, they must remember that change will come slowly and not to expect the children to learn these values overnight,” Mr. Miller said.
He said character-training remains the work of the family, while book learning is the work of school authorities. He called on both parties to collaborate in providing training for the children.
“Character training can’t wait until a child goes to school. It must begin when a child is very young so that he or she will grow up in the right way. Parents must also remember that developing good character takes a long time. It is difficult to change a person’s character after he or she has grown up,” he stressed.
He said mothers are the first teachers of human beings, which he said makes them largely responsible for character development in the early childhood years.
“It ought to be obvious, whenever personal circumstances or those imposed by society at large do not permit mothers to do a thorough job of early education, we should not be surprised to find the society presided over by people of reprehensible characters at all levels,” he said.
The high incidence of corruption in Liberia serves as a perfect example; an act which has the propensity to wreck the society’s economy, thereby creating a generally depressing experience for most people, said Miller.
As the government struggles with such problems, he said, nobody seems to be concerned about the army of children who swarm the streets of Monrovia looking for a livelihood, adding that “They gamble in the streets, pick people’s pockets, steal from cars and school themselves thoroughly in other kinds of deviant behaviors.”
“As we look around our country today, it is sad to see that most of our young people lack discipline and character. While it is true that everyone carries into public life discipline that was instilled into them in the home, we must also begin to look at what is happening in the schools, because the school and home are collaborative partners when it comes to early childhood development,” he stressed.
According to him, the high incidence of indiscipline among the youths in Liberia has today led to the conclusion that teachers and parents do not collaborate in developing the character of the children, stating that the lack of moral virtues is on the decline in Liberia.
“I say this because a few years back, who would have thought that rape would be on the increase as it is now, especially among the young people? Or that the use of drugs and other illegal substances would be so high in the country? Even after the civil war, we are still exposed to some of the bad things that have been mentioned. We as parents and teachers have not yet mastered the art of training our children or developing their characters,” Mr. Miller noted.
He added that, “Parents must be good examples for their children. If they are truthful, the children will learn to be truthful. If they are generous, the children will learn to be generous; and if they are bad, the children will learn to be bad.”