In a speech to the 2015 graduating class of the T.J.R Faulkner College of Science and Technology, the Korean Ambassador accredited to Liberia, Noh Kyu-Duk, suggested that when Liberia prioritizes education, especially in science and technology, it can accelerate its economic development, and therefore, become like his native Korea, a country that invested substantially in education after its civil war in 1953.
“During the period of war and restoration, however, education remained the nation’s highest priority,” Ambassador Noh told the graduating class yesterday.
Recounting how Korea achieved its economic success story which turned it into one of the “Asian Tigers,” Ambassador Noh said Korea developed a five-year economic plan in 1962.
“Korea’s economic development goes back to the year in 1962 when Korea put a first five- year economic plan into action,” he said.
“In the 1960s the light industry such as garments and textiles developed rapidly and created momentum for Korea’s economic growth.”
According to Ambassador Noh, Korea soon lost its competitive advantage due to wage increases, which could not be sustained, forcing the government to invest heavily in the chemical industry.
“Steel was the first heavy industry to be developed,” he explained. “Despite skepticism about the feasibility of such a venture in Korea, the Korean government successfully integrated steel mill in the early 1970s,” he added.
He said that paved the way for the advancement of other steel-related industries, such as shipbuilding, automobiles, machinery and construction.
However, he said the Korean government saw that without the support of science and technology of its own, the national goal of industrialization and economic development would be nothing but a sand-castle or a mirage.
“Against this background, in 1973, the Korea government established the ‘Daedeok Science Town’ (DST) as an engine of enhancing the national competitiveness of high technology,” he said.
To the graduates, Ambassador Noh admonished them not to see themselves as others, impressing upon them to develop a plan of action to achieve their goals.
“You will never be too late to do anything. Forget too much entertainment and don’t enjoy laziness, but focus on what you can do to improve yourselves,” he told the 189 graduates of the Science College.
Similarly, Ms. Anita Tarplah, the valedictorian of the 2015 graduating class of the T.J.R Faulkner College of Science and Technology and also the valedictorian of all 2015 undergraduate students of the University of Liberia, urged her fellow graduates to civically engage, rather than focus on egoistic ideals, prestige, or ambitions of splendor.
“As we move into tomorrow, let us hold fast to the words of Frederick Douglass, remembering that, ‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress, and that progress is in our community, in our country, in our world, which can only happen when bright minds like us adopt to become involved,’” Ms. Taplah said.
She attributed her success to faith and hard work, adding, “My own education has been blended in faith and hard work. It is not modest as has been mentioned by some.”
She emphasized that an effective generation requires the compressive education to make some strong predictions about the future, and recommended that the government make the salary and benefits of hardworking professors attractive so as to enable other professors in the Diaspora to return and join the profession to impact knowledge into the student population of Liberia.
For her part, the Dean of the Science College, Dr. Ophelia Weeks, recounted the numerous demonstrations that resulted in the closure of the college for two months, threats by geology students that put faculty safety into question, the Ebola epidemic that ultimately resulted to the closure of the school for six months.
“We are a resilient family, and things are getting better,” Dean Weeks said. “Our silver lining in light of these challenges is that on Thursday, December 10, 51 women and 138 men will become alumni of UL’s T.J.R. Faulkner College of Science and Technology, and we are proud of them.”
The College of Science and Technology also honored several professors and staff including Zizi Zubah, the College Coordinator; John Y. Flomo, a Physics Lab Demonstrator; Professors Dr. Eugene Shannon and Francis Cooper for their “dedicated services” to the college and the university.
Several students with grade point averages (GPA) ranging from 3.28 to 4.00 from the Departments of Biology and Chemistry were honored. They included Anita Taplah, Klon D.C. Hinneh, Alimany S. Donzo, John R. Alpha, Amyleen Y. Maimie, Victor S. Tamba, David N. Worjloh Jr., Lucia L. Paye-Layleh, Swaliho F. Kamara, Titus B. Jerbo and Patrick A. Blamo, Jr.