During Liberia’s pre-war era, according to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the people of Grand Cape Mount County were referred to as people who were passionate about education.
But this reality seems to be no longer reflective of a county that produced the likes of prominent Liberian medical doctor Vuyu Golakai; former Vice president of the University of Liberia, Dr. Momolu Getaweh; former Agriculture Minister Florence Chenoweth; former Education Minister Etmonia David Tarpeh; as well as the three highly educated daughters of Dr. Golakai’s; and many other Cape Mountainians, President Sirleaf observed over the weekend.
The younger generation of Cape ‘Mountainians’ are finding it very difficult to live up to this expectation, which President Sirleaf feels is as a result of the mass exodus of many of the educated people who are currently in the Diaspora and Monrovia.
She believes that the county can regain its prewar status only if citizens are willing to contribute to the development of their home, especially through education.
The President, called on educated citizens of the county in the Diaspora to return home to help educate the younger generation which is in dire need of empowerment.
She said they should come back to augment the faculty staff of the David A. Straz Technical and Vocational College of the University of Liberia in Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County, where students are eager to advance, but because of the shortage of lecturers, are compelled to obtain only associate degrees.
She made the call when she along with Ambassador David A. Straz, a benefactor and American humanitarian who the College is named after, visited the school as part of Liberia’s 169th Independence anniversary activities.
The President’s comments were in response to calls from the students and the county authorities that the college should be upgraded to a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) degree granting institution.
The college currently offers Associate of Arts degrees in agriculture, education and engineering.
According to some stakeholders, the college, which has a vibrant campus and ever expanding learning environment, should be elevated to B.Sc status. But President Sirleaf and UL President Emmet A. Dennis see it differently, looking at the appeal from a more technical perspective.
“So if you want us to do that we all have to make the sacrifices. This county has a lot of educated people, if they can try to come back home to help, we will highly appreciate it,” President Sirleaf responded.
She appealed to students of the institution and citizens of Grand Cape Mount County to adhere to the advice of the President of the University of Liberia, Dr. Emmet Dennis, who advised that the college offer “Associate of Arts degrees in related disciplines until qualified instructors are recruited to upgrade the institution to B.Sc. level.”
She said it was ‘the power of positive collaboration’ between local authorities and community members that made the establishment of the college a success, adding, “If they had not put their hands around authorities of the University of Liberia, this technical and vocational college would not have been there today.”
The government, the President said, can’t do it all – from infrastructural development to the provision of basic social services such as electricity, water and sanitation, saying that’s the reason the government embraces people like Ambassador Straz.
Ambassador Straz commended President Sirleaf, authorities of the University and students for their collaboration that is yielding fruitful results and called on the students to take advantage of the opportunities being offered.
Senator Edward B. Dagoseh commended President Sirleaf and Mr. Straz, as well as the administration of the University of the Liberia, for building a foundation for the future generations of Grand Cape Mount and Liberia at large, including citizens from the Mano River Union. He appealed to the President for pavement of the road linking Madina to Robertsport.
The David A. Straz Technical and Vocational College currently has 356 registered candidates for the 2016/2017 Entrance and Placement Exam, the highest since the establishment of the school in 1983.