The young people of Lower Nimba County will shortly have reasons to smile as they will be receiving a modern Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Institution that is on the verge of establishment in that part of the country.
Former Nimba County Superintendent, Jackson Jay Paye, in pursuit of this dream, has donated 50 (fifty) acres of his privately owned and deeded land, located in the Township of Graie, for the initiative, which he said will kick off shortly.
It is Mr. Paye’s dream that the institution, when established, will fill in the technical education void in that part of Liberia and will honor the memories of his parents and other victims of the Civil War.
“WE, as Liberians should NEVER allow what happened to my parents and others across this land to happen again,” he said at a press conference in Monrovia.
The former Superintendent, who is also a son of Old Yourpea in Kparblee district, Nimba County, said, “I am donating 50 (fifty) acres of my privately owned and deeded land located in the Township of Graie, Lower Nimba County, between the Cities of Saclepea and Tappita, to a Technical Vocational Education Foundation.”
The United Nations has stressed the need for TVET to be prioritized globally as a way of helping to alleviate poverty, especially in least Developed Countries (LDC).
Most of the labor force in least-developed countries (LDCs) is in the agricultural and rural sectors. The dimension of rural poverty and the mutually reinforcing relationship among improved skills for rural people and food security and poverty reduction are driving a change in technical and vocational agricultural education and training (TVAET) towards a clear focus on contributing to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
It is against this backdrop that Mr. Paye said the institution, when constructed, will train young people in Agriculture, Building Trades and Home Economics as a starter.
“When these trades are learned, they will provide young people marketable skills and make them employable and/or self-employable; thus making them less susceptible to be lured to violent enterprises that devastated our Country during the Civil War,” he added.
He hopes that when the Institute begins operations, it will replicate, but not substitute what Booker T. Washington (BWI), the premier Vocational Institute, has stood for over the years. BWI is Mr. Paye’s Alma Matter—an institution that has produced some of the finest Architects, Engineers of all stripes, Scientists, Agriculturist, Politicians, Renowned Journalists, and Entrepreneurs in Liberia and the world.
“Our aim is to empower others so that we should have sustainable peace and genuine reconciliation for Liberia to move from its ugly past,” he stated at the press conference, adding, “Government alone cannot do it; we all must chip in whatever little way we can to make Liberia better.”
It is no secret that skills development for rural youth is a lifelong learning process which plays an important role, not only in increasing economic returns, but also in social outcomes, such as enhanced representativeness of rural livelihoods in the national arena, social cohesion, health, or peace-building.
Mr. Paye, who recently served as Deputy Minister of Public Works for Rural Development, also used the press conference to launch the Paye-Ziadee-Galawee (PZG) Foundation.
The Foundation, he said, is not for profit, and its sole purpose shall be to impart Technical Vocational Education and Training to youth in Lower Nimba County, and other adjacent communities in that part of Liberia.
The initial operating capital of the Foundation is estimated at US$500,000 and will be raised through charitable donations from Liberia and abroad from individuals and other foundations.
The policy phrase Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) is rapidly gaining ground across the globe, especially in the least developed countries. In Liberia, Mr. Jackson noted, the call for a robust initiative, especially in the rural parts of the country cannot be overemphasized.
“The donated land will be used as the Foundation sees fit, but more specifically for infrastructure of a Vocational Institute that shall be established and run by a private foundation,” he added, noting that other parts of the land will be used for the erection of infrastructure and agricultural purposes.
“This will afford students in the field the opportunity to have practical training as a large swath of land will be required. The surplus from such training will be used to supplement food supply, and for sustenance,” he said.
Mr. Paye disclosed that the institute will have names of prominent Lower Nimba Citizens featured on some of the trade shops to pay homage to them for their contributions to the Communities, and to Liberia in general.
“This is our way of reconciling our people. As a matter of fact, we commenced our Reconciliation process in 2017. The process we started was a personal initiative aimed at three Yourpea Towns which were all affected by the brutal 14+ years of civil war. The initiative will continue and will incorporate other towns in the future,” he said.
Mr. Paye has served as Deputy Minister twice (Defense in the 1980s and Public Works, recently), and Superintendent of Nimba County. Additionally, he was privileged to work in the United States of America in a highly placed professional civil engineering position for over 17 years in the US private sector before returning home in 2010. Upon my return, I opened and operated a wholly-owned Liberian Design, Construction and Engineering Company before being called upon once again, to serve my country. It was during this time that he was called upon by President Sirleaf to work in her government.