Why We Must Provide Opportunities that Prepare the Youth of Today, for the Future Our ICT and Telecommunications Sector
By Dr. Darren Wilkins ([email protected]| Phone: 0886703789/0777129092)
Much has been said about President Weah’s recent appointments; especially as they relate to experience or should I say qualifications. The question is WHY DO WE HAVE SO MANY INEXPERIENCED Folks? In today’s article, I briefly discuss my experience in trying to implement a “vision”; a vision that, in my opinion, would positively impact the future of our ICT Sector and that of Liberia’s as well.
In June of 2017, I took a bold move, despite our challenges, of initiating a “Temporary Workers’ Program” at LIBTELCO. This “program initially intended to bring in THIRTY (30) young folks (High School grads, College students and college grads), to help LIBTELCO in its efforts to transform, to gain experience, “evangelize ICT, have “pocket change” for school and prepare to take lead of our ICT Sector. Call it a PRO-POOR initiative done in a different way.
Those who did not understand my VISION were against that decision and REFUSED to embrace advent of a diverse group of young men and women who brought in a new energy and enthusiasm; things that the Corporation needed so desperately. Perhaps it was XENOPHOBIA, CRAB MENTALITY or simply, the feeling of ENTITLEMENT that brought about the rejection of those kids. But the kids that were brought in were young LIBERIANS who did not care much about the REMUNERATION/ salary, but more about being given the opportunity to GARNER WORK EXPERIENCE and build their resume or curriculum vitae, while helping to “RESUSITATE” a struggling Corporation. That opportunity also prevented them from just sitting home doing NOTHING, or wandering in the streets aimlessly, spending all day watching European soccer, or spending precious time at Winners and at so-called intellectual centers.
You see my VISION was simple and clear: Create an ENVIRONMENT where the young and future leaders could be COACHED, MENTORED and NURTURED to take over the responsibilities of the ICT SECTOR and bring a level of MODERNITY TO LIBERIA via ICTs. In addition, it was also intended to make the young folks “ICT Evangelists” and provide “pocket change” for them since the 26th of July and the reopening of schools ensued. Believe it or not, some used this opportunity to take care of family responsibilities. Was I wrong in making that move? I frankly do not think so.
While many of these kids were “let go” after my exodus from the Corporation as the new Government came in, many of them are today either part-time or full-time employees who are making a colossal contribution toward the transformation of the Corporation.
I struggled to comprehend why LIBERIANS of my GENERATION would be against an initiative that is/was intended to EMPOWER the NEW GENERATION to bring development to Liberia. Do these YOUNG LIBERIANS NOT form part of the future of Liberia? Why do Liberians spend so much time strangulating each other’s progress all the time? Why is it that what’s good for YOU is not good for the other person? Why do we feel ENTITLED to some things/opportunities and no else is?
Today, we complain that the President is appointing “INEXPERIENCED” people in his government. Why is this so? The very people we call INEXPERIENCED today are the ones who WERE DENIED internship, part-time work and other opportunities to gain the VERY EXPERIENCE that we are SCREAMING for today. So, why complain now? Liberia will NEVER achieve PROSPERITY if her PEOPLE do not CHANGE their MINDS and ATTITUDES.
Liberia must consider the implementation of policies and programs in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, in a manner that endeavors to drive sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth and job creation, particularly for poor, marginalized and vulnerable. Building the capacity of young Liberians through initiatives like the one I mentioned above, is one way of achieving and sustaining economic growth in Liberia. We must not deny others the opportunity to grow simply because of our own personal agenda or philosophy. Doing so will always hurt a nation that has already been hurt for many years.
I honestly do NOT regret making the decision to bring on those kids during my brief “tenure” at LIBTELCO. My philosophy is simple; if we can better the life of ONE PERSON, we would be bettering the lives of maybe at least FIVE persons, if not a generation. And, this will also bring improvement to our country. After all, the BIBLE does say “LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF” not LOVE THYSELF AND THYSELF ONLY. Or, as we say in Liberia, ONE MAN ONE CUP NO CRUST FOR DOG.”
Until next week, Carpe diem!