‘Liberians Need to Catch Up’

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The Chinese Ambassador to Liberia has stressed the need for Liberia to catch up with her neighbors, saying, “Liberia is far behind its neighbors in terms of education, manpower development and capacity building.”

Ambassador Zhang Yue said there is urgency in the area of manpower development capacity building, especially in the area of technical education that would be of great asset to the many unemployed young people in the country.

“This huge deficit in the human resource capacity area of the country, Ambassador Yue said, “came as a result of the prolonged civil unrest that swept across the country, ruining the future of young Liberian generations.”

He spoke at a dinner held by the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Youth and Sports in honor of the Chinese government and the Shanxi Engineering Construction Group, which constructed the Monrovia Vocational Training Center (MVTC), for their commitment to the development of Liberian youth.

The MVTC has been completed and is expected to be dedicated very soon.

“In formal education, it takes nine to 12 years of school, but the civil conflict lasted over 13 years. That means, one generation missed out or was affected. Liberians need to catch up. Liberians need to bridge that gap,” the Chinese diplomat said, noting that bridging that gap can only come in the form of vocational education.

He said last year was another wasted year for young Liberians because they were unable to go through the academic year because of the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease. “Last year was another year of lost education,” Amb. Yue recalled.

He said the MVTC project is another symbol of the strong relationship that now exists between Liberia and China.

“As you know, for the past decade, China has contributed immensely to the education of Liberia in your efforts to recover from the civil conflicts that lasted over 14 years,” he said.

Ambassador Yue said “The first one is the Fendell Campus of the University of Liberia, and I think this MVTC building is a very comprehensive complex, not only with its beautiful classrooms and other facilities, but the dormitory facilities.”

“I’m grateful that it has been completed and it could not have been at a better time than this – right after the Ebola outbreak. This is a very good reason to celebrate.”

He reiterated that China’s involvement in Liberia’s postwar recovery efforts is not only in the economic development, security and other sectors, but education, which he said, “is one of the hot priorities of this country.”

He also noted that Fendell and the MVTC projects are good gifts of the Chinese government in support of Liberians’ efforts to recover their economic and social lives.

“This is another demonstration of China’s friendship, our sincerity in our relationship with the Liberian people. And I am very pleased that Ebola did not stop us. It did not scare away our contractors, and right after that, our people swiftly resumed their works.”

Education is not just to do literacy and basic knowledge, he said, “but living and working skills, all of that, the right facility for the capacity building of the young people for their living and working experiences.”

“China will always stand with Liberia in the area of education because this area is the future of all nations,” declared Ambassador Yue.

Youth and Sports Minister, Eugene Nagbe, said that the program was to show appreciation to the government and people of the Republic of China and Shanxi.

“It is always good to show appreciation. This is a great gift, but what is a gift when it is not utilized properly?

“We are also happy because we have received another commitment from the Chinese side that one year after the handover, they will perform general services, meaning they will help us maintain the facilities,” Nagbe said.

He said the reason why his ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs encouraged the Chinese to continue their engagement with the project is “because we required a period of transition for us to maintain the facility properly.”

In the software area of the project, Minister Nagbe said 25 Liberians are currently undergoing specialized training in vocational education in China.

“I am also happy and thankful even as we speak here today, we have 25 of our employees, trainers, instructors and teachers, who are currently in China undergoing training so that they too can come back and impart knowledge to their brothers and sisters.”

Meanwhile, the Ambassador was presented with a gift of an engraving of the National Seal of Liberia.

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