Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai said the quality of BWI’s facility and faculty added to the soundness of the vision of the administration and the Board continues to convince the government that the institute needs to be elevated to a junior college status.
The establishment of the Booker Washington Agricultural and Industrial Institute (BWI) of Liberia was a ‘dream come true’ for the late President Charles Dunbar Burgess King. During an official visit to the U.S. in 1924, president King was asked by a reporter to name anything of significance that he would like to take back to his country. The President said,
“If it were possible, I would like to take Tuskegee Institute with me to Liberia.” Even though it was not physically possible to transplant Tuskegee Institute of the United States to Liberia, President King’s dream of a Tuskegee-type institution in Liberia was fulfilled in 1929, through the establishment of BWI.
And because of this, Vice President Boakai committed himself to working for the achievement of this goal in the soonest possible time.
Boakai’s concern for BWI was made public in a speech he delivered at the program marking the 88th founding anniversary of the institute held under the theme, “BWI at 88: Appreciating the Past, Strengthening the Present, and Nourishing the Future.”
He said the government continues to consider the BWI as critical to the molding of good minds for Liberia, for which “we have gone to lengths to attract greater interest in and support for it.”
“In conjunction with some local and foreign partners,” he continued, “we are pursuing efforts to raise the educational level of BWI to, among other things, begin a program that will train and produce laboratory technicians to man our hospitals and clinics.”
He said whenever he visits the United States and other countries, he continues to carry with him the concerns of institutions of higher learning in the country, and keeps BWI at the top of his list of schools that need elevation to technical college status.
He said the theme for the 88th Founder’s Day was not only a befitting one for the occasion, but also a guide that could help every Liberian in their quest for transformation.
“I should admit that this theme, ‘Appreciating the Past, Strengthening the Present, and Nourishing the Future’ is so well-placed that it has so much clear relevance to a whole host of situations in our present realities,” the VP declared.
He said Liberia’s present-day situation, particularly at this period in time, reflects the program’s theme in such a way that if properly utilized, could unravel possibilities and potentials far beyond any calculations in the country’s imagination.
Shortly after the indoor program, VP Boakai inaugurated the school’s trade shops, renovated by the government.
In his message, the principal and chief executive officer (CEO) of BWI, Harris Fomba Tarnue, said at 88, the BWI is proudly turning young people into aspiring engineers, architects, business and national leaders, professionals and technicians from diverse pursuits.
Mr. Tarnue called on the youth, especially the BWI students, to commit themselves to appreciating the foundation laid by the country’s past, to vow to work unceasingly to make the present stronger and vibrant, and at the same time to create achievable visions for an excellent Liberia that future generations would take pride in as their heritage.
He said his administration’s strategic focus will continue to be driven by public engagement coupled with definite and purposive actions set out in a five-point strategic priority to include investment in staff development and capacity-building; invest in BWI’s internal revenue generating capacity; strengthen existing infrastructures and build new ones; enhance students and young faculty recruitment, development and retention programs; and to elevate BWI to a technical college and high-quality market focused institution.
BWI’s 88th Founder’s Day activities started on Thursday, June 22, with community service, which witnessed the graduations of over 30 young women in pastry marking, enhanced training of the BWI security guard service and staff development.
It was climaxed on Sunday, June 25 with thanksgiving and a religious service on the main campus.