President-elect George Weah has committed to taking steps in education to develop the minds of the youth.
Weah spoke yesterday in Monrovia at the ECOWAS Human Rights Day celebrated under the theme, “Promoting rights to education towards the ECOWAS Vision 2020.”
He said the rebuilding of Liberia’s education sector after 14 years of civil war will continue to be a serious challenge to successive governments of Liberia.
“The war did not only destroy our educational infrastructures but also changed our attitude towards education and created a huge demand for qualified teachers and professors for schools, vocational institutions, and universities. We hope that…our partners in ECOWAS and the international community will give us their support,” Weah said.
Contrary to his earlier stated position that ‘education cannot build the nation and cannot put food on the table,’ Weah said, “Education is important because it gives knowledge…and it also develops in humans a perspective of looking at life and points of view in life.”
He said he strongly believes that the denial of an individual’s access to education “is a human rights violation because the inability of any child to get an education because of the lack of school, sub-standard school, or high cost of schooling constitutes a denial of that child’s right to education.”
Weah said the vast majority of Liberian youth cannot find employment because of the lack of skills, and the many few who have skills are not experts in their areas of discipline.
“We need more and better-trained teachers not only for our vocational institutions but for our schools and universities. The 14 years of civil war made it impossible for most of our children in the early 1990s to attend school as all educational institutions were destroyed,” he said.
Weah indicated that vocational institutions are the best way forward to enable young adults to enter the job market as most of them have already assumed family responsibilities.
He said the vast majority of learning institutions in Liberia lack science labs, libraries and textbooks, which are all crucial to the learning process.
“I’m sure that with collective efforts we can together achieve the 2020 goal of ECOWAS in promoting education as a human right obligation of all West African governments to our children,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her keynote address said out of the many broad areas of pain that human rights are concerned with, it is important that the theme of this year’s celebration ‘…to the attainment of ECOWAS Vision 2020’ could not have been chosen at a better time.
She said ECOWAS set aside January 16 to be celebrated each year as ‘ECOWAS Human Rights Day’ in order to promote human rights and inclusive governance with regard to women and the youth.
President Sirleaf said it is obvious that if “we must promote human rights and achieve inclusive governance with a focus on women and youth then the education of women and youth including children remain indispensable.”
She said young people are the future leaders of Africa and they will be the driving force behind sustainable growth across the continent, therefore investing in education and training is significant in building an educated and skilled workforce and as a means of encouraging innovation.