-Alexander Cummings pleads with stakeholders
Businessman turned politician Alexander Benedict Cummings has underscored the need for the government of and other stakeholders to prioritize technical, vocational, education training (TVET) as part of the comity of nations.
Cummings spoke at the induction ceremony of officers of the Cuttington University Alumni Association (CUAA) on Saturday, February 23, 2019 on the main campus in Suakoko District, Bong County.
Those inducted into affairs of CUAA are S. Tornorlah Varpilah, president; Garmai Nyuangar, vice president; Gimah Sambolah, secretary general; Thomas Momo, financial secretary; Vivien Jones, treasurer; and Princess Jones, chaplain.
The program was graced by scores of students, alumni and some board members of the University.
He said during the devastating civil war (1989-2003), schools were destroyed while teachers were killed by belligerent warring factions.
He said that with the current budgetary allocation to education and the lack of policy direction, the education system is far from being out of mess.
“The impact of our educational system is due to the war and former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after 12 years tried fixing the system, but she could not because of the huge challenge facing the sector,” Cummings said.
He told his audience that as a people and an institution, they have the responsibility to look at the education system, discuss it and unsure how it can meet their needs.
“Like Cuttington, many other institutions graduate thousands of youngsters every year, who do not get jobs; not only do we have challenges in schools at all levels, but those who go through the process are ill-prepared for the job market,” he said.
Cummings added, “we are training thousands of young men and women and dropping them in the streets, because what they learned in school does not always correspond with what society or the job market demands.”
He then suggested the need to overhaul the country’s educational system entirely to attain the desire result.
He said after the war the government embarked on the construction of the educational system that must meet the development needs of the country. However, many of the country’s youth have not had the luxury to go to college. “This means that a major portion of the workforce is either unproductive and at times a threat to security.”
“Education is the only way for us to ensure that everyone has access to opportunity; education is the key to our progress,” Cummings said.
Cummings added, “good governance is not an issue just for the national government, but important for all of us at every level of responsibility, including those who manage the affairs of CUAA to apply the same level of transparency and integrity as if you were in the government.”
“One of the tasks as alumni association is to find resources for the university; there are many people who have gone through these walls and I am sure they are all ready to open their checkbooks not only in Liberia but around the continent and in the diaspora there are tremendous resources to be accessed,” Cummings said.
He said Liberia has long suffered, and will continue on that path because those in leadership continue to turn the country’s wealth into personal belongings.
“Be aware that you as an association represent all of us, including Cuttington, what you do whether good or bad, will reflect on all of us,” he said.
CUAA President S. Tornorla Varpilah, said his administration believes that the challenges are not insurmountable to overcome, adding, “we are taking over when the economy of the country is on a downward trend; though the ailing economy will certainly impact our leadership, we will not be deterred,” he said.
“We are ascending to the leadership of the Alumni Association at a time when our Alma Matter is faced with numerous challenges. As you may know, Cuttington currently depends solely on student tuition with little or no assistance from external sources to operate. Power outages, delayed salary payments, irregular supply of water among other things are challenges that have resulted in a low ranking of the University in Africa and globally,” the newly inducted president outlined.
“It is within this context that we are proposing and urging you to support our ‘Agenda for Awakening the Cuttington Spirit for Excellence and Growth,’ and the overriding goal of this agenda is to support Cuttington become a premier university in Africa,” Varpilah said.
He named rebuilding the physical infrastructure and promoting academic excellence as the fulcrum of the CUAA’s agenda.
He said the organization is determined to working with all stakeholders to mobilize the required financial, human and material resources to enhance excellence and growth at the institution.
“The administration of Dr. Herman Brown, CU President favorably responded to our request in December 2018 and turned over house #4 to serve as the Alumni House,” Mr. Varpilah said.
He said his administration has deplored five strategies to galvanize support to implement the “Agenda for Excellence and Growth.”