By Eddie Miaway Farngalo BSN, RN, MPH
The government of Liberia and other employers normally address the high unemployment rate in this country by stating that many citizens are not educationally qualified as well as do not have the requisite experiences. These defensive mechanisms have been proven otherwise. Because there are lots of highly qualified individuals, especially youths, whose knowledge had been underutilized due to misplacement at job sites if the opportunities are given them, some understandings of the matter also deteriorate because they are not given the opportunity (employment) to practice what they have learned from universities. Others also switch to other professions that seem more marketable. These issues plus others have the propensity to widen the higher unemployment rate usually reported.
Concession companies are among institutions that are mandated under agreements to provide social development funds to county (ies) in which they operate. Some fulfill this by annually providing full-sponsor scholarships (allowances, travels, accommodations, etc.) to citizens within or who originate from the affected counties.
As part of the scholarship recruitment process, competition is the apex of you becoming a beneficiary for the scholarship. GPA of not less than 3.0 is also cardinal. In a nutshell, successful students for those scholarships are rated as the best among all other applicants. Sadly, those students return to the country with some levels of wavering faith that they are going to serve their home country (Liberia).
Often, excitements as such are killed by potential employers, government, and many at times institutions that sent them for the study. Yet still, people with similar or fewer qualifications as compared with citizens who know the ins and outs, dos and don’ts of the country’s problems (health, environmental, economy, finances, etc.) are imported or prioritized by employers while foreign degrees acquired at the expense of the country indirectly get dust in the hands of beneficiaries.
This kind of disservice does not serve as catalyst to discredit our educational system or individuals who have strived to acquire those relevant degrees but can also cause economic hardships (paying foreign employees more than what you will give a Liberian with similar degrees), social problems, mental disturbances while creating disenfranchised blocks of youth who are negative about whatsoever the government or employers who do in terms of incorporating them into society or other activities. Some even remained in countries they were sent to do the masters/undergraduate degrees at the expense of the company and the country at-large.
Arguably, those who award those scholarships will say that the student beneficiaries’ fields of study are not needed within their institutions. But there are criteria outlining specified fields of interest on advertisements made to the public prior to picking up application packages. Again, others use level of experiences to tie educationally qualified people who have returned to the country from studies down or short for employment.
Regrettably, there is relatively no active policy that provides national service for newly graduates where they will gradually gain experiences over time, with a minimum allowance/stipend given. The President Young Professional Program must be applauded for this unlike the larger society. In the absence of this policy, qualifications in term of experiences routinely placed on job advertisements as one of the way markers for employments are not applicable in this society, Liberia.
Those experience factors have been used to make so many people complacent at job sites. Hence, there is no career ladder for them – as a result, many institutions’ way of doing things are grounded in “those days” even though we are in the 21st century. Minority who get the opportunity to get jobs that are in line with their fields of study are threatened by more experienced people on the ground or are not given the required logistics, which an oversea employees will demand before putting pen to paper. This had caused the younger ones to resign immediately. Because for them they pray for long life, not the job. Some graduates usually hide their higher educational qualifications when applying for jobs; while some migrate to other fields, just because they have hierarchy of needs to satisfy.
“I did my master in Geomatics Engineering and since I came back home, I have no job absolutely. Interestingly, the company that sent me just hired a firm for fees of 300,000 to do a job that I can do…I am thinking about leaving this country in search for better life. I tried all over but to no avail.” Mr. Donseah explained.
“I got my degree in public administration and public procurement management. No job since I graduated. I felt that bachelor was not enough and I added additional value.” Mr. Yoweah ascertained.
“My sponsor put up vacancy in my area of specialty but I have never been called. It has not been easy on me. I got M.Phil in Agronomy.” Mr. Kolleh lamented.
“I got my master in Economic Policy Management. I am employed with manageable wage but I lack logistical and financial support, but I am here until I get better opportunity.” Mr Blasin stated.
Quoted above are few voices of many who are waiting around for more than two years without being given the least opportunity to contribute to the country’s workforce/economy. Yet still, we import workers that demand lucrative incentives since they have to move away from their country and we still complain of “fiscal deficit.” Giving scholarship to citizens and not being able to contribute to the country’s manpower/workforce, economic, etc., is wasteful. Students who are sent abroad or in country to achieve higher education must in return be employed through a contractual basis, but at the same time, some fees should be deducted from their salaries or benefits entitled them as per qualifications standard. It also reduces high staff turnover (resignation) since beneficiaries are in bond with said institution. In addition, there will be increased competition among employers to educate workers while cutting down importation of employees since ownerships are going to speak in the job market. At the end, literacy rate in Liberia will increase rapidly. With respect to past experiences being at the center for employment, it should never be genuine until national service policy can be put into place to build people into an experience oriented manner as required by employment. Or else, scholarships will turn out to be the newest form of Diversity Visa (DV) – meaning people who get awarded will definitely stay in countries they obtained their degrees. Even though failure of beneficiaries to return immediately after study completion is progressing, it will soon become routine. I end with Albert Einstein’s proverb that states: “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.” Let scholarship providers make use of beneficiaries, and employers not dwell on experiences as a pillar for employment solely. Let them try to be one of those who will historically give someone that experience.
Eddie Miaway Farngalo: 0886484351/0777590035; email address: [email protected]