In this third article of the series centered on the indispensability of reforms, from time to time, of individuals, institutions, and nations, particular attention is drawn to some key suggestions on how to go about the business of reforms. How may one go about the difficult, delicate and yet necessary act of reforming people and their institutions? What can be learnt from others to aid in the awesome engagement of reforms? What methods are to be avoided? Let us examine below. The second article on what the Holy Bible teaches about reforms and how to carry them out observed the following points:
Religions call for change or reform of people and their environments. Most major religions of the world are in the business of making people and their relationships to the rest of creation better. The chief goal of Christianity is to make people and their environments better. The Bible uses different words to convey the idea of reform: transformation (Romans 12:2), renewal (Romans 12:2), new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). The basic and fundamental truth is that all human beings and their institutions are not perfect and thus need reform or renewal. The Psalmist and Paul make this point vividly: “God looks down from heaven upon us all, to see if there is any who is wise, if there is one who seeks after God. Everyone has proved faithless; all alike have turned bad; there is none who does; no, not one…. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Psalm 53:2-3; Romans3:23).
The fact of the matter is that, and we all know this from experience from within and around us, none of us is without some weakness somewhere and we all have the tendency to be bad. The Bible attributes this to sin and a fallen nature in each one of us. But the Bible does not only tell us that we are weak, do terrible things, have the tendency to decline from good to bad; it points the way out.
That we can be saved and can change for the better at any time, no matter how bad and far we have strayed from God and what is good.
Paul writes, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). The basic biblical principle is that man and his institutions are capable of failings, and therefore need reform all the time. The Bible implies that this much desired reform or transformation begins with the mind, a mind that earnestly desires and seeks change for the better. It believes that the change comes when humans cooperate with God and in dependence upon God do what they ought to do. It neither can be done when humans push everything on God and do nothing, nor when they confide in their own strength and ingenuity. God wants all persons and their institutions to reform and will play his part but humans must play their part too.
Reforming is a demanding engagement because it asks those the reforms are going to affect (negatively or positively) to change. And change is always a hard thing to ask of people. Most people are conservative when they have to change their mindsets and attitudes. They really have to be convinced before they can consent.
Therefore every well-meaning and radical reform under democratic conditions must be preceded by wide consultations and accurate dissemination of what is envisioned among all those concerned.
People must know what the desired result might be and the processes leading to it. The costs and benefits have to be clearly spelt out. The one driving the reforms has to listen to both supporters and critics and build a consensus before proceeding formally.
Many around the world have had successful reforms of their educational systems such as Singapore, Britain and the US. Those concerned should make an effort to study those reforms and learn from them to make ours work. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Hasty and not well thought-through approaches need to be avoided. True reformers cannot listen to every side noise but must listen to those whose opinions matter (legislators, parents, DEOS, CEOS, communities, and students through their official representatives). When once a consensus is found, hard decisions have to be made for the long term good of education in all its aspects. The reformer must be bold, firm, and willing to take criticisms. She/he may learn from some of the criticisms but must proceed where they are judged not helpful to the process. Liberia indeed needs reforms of its educational system but those reforms have got to be approached in the right way: wide consultations, repudiating methods that are unilateral, and the willingness to stand criticisms and pay the price of reforms.