…Says Deputy Education Minister Kessely
Simeon S. Wiakanty and Hannah N. Geterminah
Alton V. Kessely, Deputy Minister for Planning Research and Development at the Ministry of Education (MoE), has underscored the need to empower youth, something he said is paramount to the growth and development of every nation.
Kessely made these comments over the weekend when he served as the keynote speaker at a program marking the 2nd graduation ceremony of the Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women Project (EPAG), held at the Edifice of Effort Baptist Church in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.
The event brought together representatives from the World Bank Group, the Children Assistance Program (CAP), government officials from the Ministry of Gender, and representatives from Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
Mr. Kessely said any nation that is truly interested in development would have its leaders invest in the youthful population.
He said the youth are not only a major resource for national financial prosperity but for social change as well. Minister Kessely added that Liberia’s growth and development lie in huge youth empowerment, with specific preference placed on girls’ education, adding that in Liberia today more than 60 percent of the population is under the age of 35, while more than 40 percent is about the age of 14.
He noted the medium age of the population is 18 years, which constitutes girls. Minister Kessely however pointed out that these girls face major obstacles in accessing education, adding: “Girls have a high risk of violence and exploitation; they struggle to make sound decision about their future.”
He said Liberian girls need quality education and skills training programs to enable them positively transform the society, something he said will be of great benefit to Liberia.
“When girls are educated, they will be able to contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of the country,” Minister Kessely indicated.
He further said evidence from research conducted has shown that social and economic empowerment of girls yields major dividends in national development. As such, the government of Liberia, headed by President George M.Weah, should ensure that girls have the necessary quality education and skills training to better their lives.
“If we prioritize girls’ education, Liberia will be on a path with other developing countries in Africa and the world at large,” he said.
He further stated that while it is true that girls need quality education and skills training for Liberia’s transformation, it is also important to protect them from any form of violence and sexual exploitation as they seek a brighter future.
Dominic M.S Massaquoi, EPAG National Coordinator, in the overview of the project, told the gathering that the Children Assistance Program, Inc. (CAP), is a child rights-based advocacy organization working for the well being of all people, especially women and children, through various forms of social services to all categories of disadvantaged children, abandoned and unaccompanied, war affected, social and economically deprived. Massaquoi further said CAP is determined to ensure that Liberian Women, youths and children reach their fullest potential through empowerment, capacity building and support in building physical, social, human and economic assets and reintegration.
In brief remarks, Oni R. Lusk- Stover Senior, an education specialist from the World Bank group, stressed the need for more young women to take advantage of skills training as it will help to transform them in society. She said girl’s education is critical to national development. As such, the World Bank will continue to partner with the organization to ensure a better education for adolescent girls in Liberia.
The training was founded by World Bank Group, with technical support from EPAG-ECD, the Ministry of Gender Implementation Unit (PIU); the Children and Social Protection also led the project.
At least 59 young women were prepared for the profession as Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers’ aides. Trainees who cannot be placed as ECD teacher’s aides will be supported to pursue their own business or a group business venture to open their own community-based care center.
The specific objective of the project is intended to increase employment and earnings so that adolescent girls and young women in Montserrado County become useful citizens.
Beneficiaries of the program will benefit in several ways, which include opening a savings account, payment of daily stipends, feeding of trainees during season, deposit of saving match, payment of completion bonus.
Beneficiaries of the program will engage into community events or services, field trip transition to workshops, business plan competition and other extra activities.