In recent times in Liberia, Minister George K. Werner has caused a stir and a panic among many Liberians with his proposal to close down schools, nullify all credits earned by students for promotion and introduce a new academic calendar year. All this is done in the name of reforming our rotten educational system. The House of Representatives has summoned him and the debate is likely to widen over what he intends to do and the House’s rejection of it and what is to go in its place. All this is a cause for a reflection on the necessity of reforms in general of how the government and other institutions are run in Liberia currently and their impact on the development of the country.
There is no argument that Liberia desperately needs to reform its public sector as a whole. This will certainly include the major areas of governance, security, economy and education. But what do we mean by reform?
What is it we want to reform? How do we want to reform? Are we willing to pay the price for reforms? We need to reflect on and find answers to these and many more questions if we are to correct the errors of the past and make genuine progress.
I therefore propose a short series to encourage and aid us in reflecting on what we want to reform in Liberia, how and at what price if we are to succeed in carrying out the needed reforms of the public sector. The series will proceed as follows. The introductory article will focus on some definitions of reforms and the various kinds of reforms badly needed in our society. The second article will consider what the Holy Bible has to teach us on reforms and how they should be carried out and some concrete suggestions as to how to engage in the business of reforms. The third article will delve into the cost of reforms. And, the fourth article will close the series with a look at the benefits of proper reforms.
What is a reformation? How does it differ from a revolution? A reformation calls for a return to the roots, basics; restoration to the original mandate or intent. It still has faith in the system or institution but questions unhelpful additions or deviations and cries for a return to the original. A reformation assumes something has gone wrong but that it can be corrected. It is a call for making good that which was once good but has gone bad. A reformation is a gradual and peaceful change.
But a revolution is a call for a radical change; it loses faith in the system or religion and demands that it be removed or destroyed and replaced with a new one. According to Malcolm X a revolution knows no compromise; it destroys anything and everything that gets in its way. He puts for the argument that a revolution is achieved through bloodshed and gives examples of how the major world revolutions before his time were achieved through bloodshed: the Russian, French, English and American. Though generally we use the words reformation and revolution synonymously or interchangeably there is a technical difference in terms of the method. One is gradual and generally peaceful (reformation) and the other is radical, sudden and is often violent (revolution).
The key concept in both terms is change for the better. Change is part and parcel of human existence. Someone has observed that when we face inevitable changes in life, and they will come from to time, we have two choices: either to cry and give up and let the changes do whatever they will or we can use them to get better. We need, in Liberia, to move from fine talking and planning to actual doing with all seriousness. Most of us desire change but often resist it when it involves us personally. We would rather expect the government and everybody else to change but not us. Change or reform must we or miss out a lot in life.
One of the needs of all individuals and institutions is to reform continuously or from time to time. The reason for this is that human beings tend to forget and eventually decline from best to better, from better to good, and from good to bad.
There have been and still are political reforms, economic reforms, industrial reforms, educational reforms, social reforms, religious reforms, and one on one personal total reform. All these types of reforms take careful thought, prayer for believers, willingness to pay a high price for a fundamental change, and spread it around in the best manner and way possible.