The administration of the Booker T. Washington (BWI) Agricultural and Industrial Institute in Kakata, Margibi County, on Saturday, October 6, graduated 181 students in various vocational and technical skills, ranging from agriculture, carpentry, electricity and machinery.
At the Institute’s 67th commencement exercise held on the campus in Kakata, young women accounted for approximately 25 percent of the graduating class as most girls braved the storm to pursue vocational skills in fields that are normally dominated by their male counterparts.
BWI’s Agriculture and Plumbing Department had the highest output, seven female graduates each.
Also, the Electronics Department boasted of four female graduates, while other departments, including the Automotive, Carpentry, Drafting, Masonry and Electrical, jointly accounted for five female graduates each.
The valedictorian, Junior Kolleh, challenged his classmates not to relax their academic sojourn, now that they have completed high school, but to continue their academic and technical journey to better prepare themselves to serve the country.
The crowded BWI auditorium was entertained with music from the Institute’s mass choir along with a saxophonist, a guitarist and a young fellow on the clarinet.
Earlier in his commencement address, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative, Dr. Pa Lamin Beyai, called on Liberians to realize that in the achievement of the government’s “Pro-poor Agenda,” technical and vocational experts are just as important as people with higher academic degrees.
“I have no doubt that in order to embark successfully on the path to development, Liberia, like other low-income countries, needs scientists, lawyers, managers, bankers, etc.,” Dr. Beyai said.
He also reminded his audience that the people who keep the country’s lights on, engines running and food on the table are those with such skills as electricians, auto-mechanics, masons, and agriculturists.
Dr. Beyai said that technical and vocational skills sustain a country’s economy as it is these skills that provide an independent source of income and job opportunities in the stimulation of small-scale businesses.
He spoke on the topic, “The Role of Technical and Vocational Training in the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development of Liberia.”
Dr. Beyai said that the successful implementation of the government’s Pro-poor Agenda will depend on youth capacity development as well as setting clear priorities in other areas of concern.
“To successfully implement the activities in these pillars will require certain clear priorities and building maximum capacity, because much of that capacity comes from talents, skills, and enterprises the young people of Liberia would develop,” he said.
He urged the members of the graduating class to create the space where their respective skills acquired will be utilized throughout their lives.
Following the awarding of diplomas, which brought joy to the excited and grateful graduates, the president of the BWI Alumni Association, Koffa E. Tenbroh, inducted all 181 into the BWI Alumni Association.
But the BWI Alumni Association in North America, or BWIAANA, is more powerful. Because of its financial strength, the BWIAANA has frequently come to the aid of their alma mater. It was the BWIAANA that first took the initiative to rebuild the Institute shortly after the country’s civil war, which devastated the campus, ended in 2003.