Simply Thinking Thoughts
In my thinking thoughts last night, I reflected on President Sirleaf’s 2015 Annual Message and the declaration that Education would now be TOP PRIORITY. Immediately the speech, pundits and critics began to raise concerns over why so late in her leadership since it is commonplace that the development and existence of all nations depend on educational systems. Howbeit, whatever reasons these critics propound to quench their thirst for answers, in my opinion, declaring education top priority is similar to declaring war on Trojan Horses which have been the conduits for infiltration into our noble profession; hence we should rather embrace the President’s declaration with much zeal and resolve.
Infiltration Via the Trojan Horse
My 11thgrade History teacher Bona Deng at the W. V. S. Tubman High School was the first to introduce the story of the Trojan Horse. It is a tale from the Trojan War about the ploy that the Greeks used to enter the City of Troyafter numerous attempts, and won the war (1200 B.C.).
According to the canonic version, after a fruitless 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse as a truce and gift to the people of Troy, and hid a select force of men inside. The Greeks pretended to sail away, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek forces crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had not actually gone away. The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, decisively ending the war.
This anecdote is simply to denote how all kinds of people who do not possess the qualifications and capacity have infiltrated the education sector through several means specifically concealed in Trojan Horses.
Presently, the education sector is bridled by the foibles and idiosyncrasies of under-achievers and people who do not know anything about education but are in the driver seats. You find these people comfortably situated, without any remorse of their ineptitude, at every level of the education sector ranging from school secretariats, NGO education projects, classrooms and almost everywhere you cough “education”.
There are therefore uncountable number of ways or “Trojan Horses” through which these infiltrators entered the sector and have brought shame and disgrace to it.
Via Compromised and Misplaced Education Workers
“Since I cannot find anything in my area, I will just go teach”. “Uncle, if I can’t fit anywhere, just send me to Education let me be doing something there”. These statements and people who comply or compromise with them are simply grossly unpatriotic, wicked and possessing no intention to improve education in Liberia and the livelihood of this nation state.
Some education leaders are simply deliberately misplaced. These infiltrated the sector when the disciplines they chose did not reap anticipated results. Either they did not read well, or they squeezed their ways through college. For example, some people obtained degrees in Management, Political Science or Sociology just to find out later that employment in those areas could not come by easily. To survive, they disguised as teachers, in spite of their gross ignorance and limitations, and entered the gates of this noble profession, destroyed it and exposed it to ridicule. These very people are still dishing out poison to our children, and mismanaging education, while genuine and proven education technicians are berated, overlooked, and shamed.
Via Private Schools and NGO Recruitment Processes
Another means by which Trojan Horses grant entry to unqualified people into the profession is the way private schools, as well as local and international non-governmental organizations (NGO) recruit staff for education ventures without Ministry of Education’s (MOE) involvement.
MOE usually never participates in the scrutiny of credentials of private school teachers, neither those of local and international education managers to determine if they possess the requisite pedagogical orientation, professional savvy, instructional delivery tenacity, and relevant experience before they are unleashed into the Liberian educational sector. Before I am remiss, some private sector staff are exceptionally savvy in education project leadership and possess rich experiences; I just happen to carry this hunch that at least their suitability should be archived by the MOE to ascertain they are not contents of Trojan Horses.
Via Substandard Teacher Training Programs
A common entry into the profession is via substandard teacher training programs. Immediately the cessation of hostilities during the 1990 war, all and sundry organizations launched education programs resulting to high demands for teachers.
Consequently, people were trained in substandard training programs, pre-maturely certified and dumped into classrooms. These people still hold their sub-standard certificates and creating havoc in classrooms because nowhere in the world can genuine teacher training take place in 6 weeks.
Conclusion: Attack the Trojan Horses
The crux of the matter is that the education sector is faced with so many challenges due to infiltration by people who do not have the passion, requisite capacity and qualifications. In the Trojan Horse story, Education Sector represents the formidable City of Troy which failed to fall to the Greeks.
Back in the day, like Troy, although teaching did not make much money, it was a noble and revered profession that turned applicants away because they were not qualified to be educators. All of the unqualified, unfit, mediocre people you find operating education today are the forces that hid in Trojan Horses pretending as if it was a gift, and at nightfall, came out and destroyed Troy.
I am sure you have heard the assertion, “If you want to die poor, be a teacher”. Unfortunately, those who make these assertions are the ones who are hiding in Trojan Horses and entering education, sitting in the decision-making saddles, serving as drum majors, or at the helm of education policy management; these people can be found at all levels from teachers to consultants.
Now, since President Sirleaf has declared that Education is top priority, I believe the first thing to do is to attack the Trojan Horses and destroy their abilities to serve as conduits and make war. To these ends, all conscientious Liberians and professional educators must get off the fence and wage war and wage it with all their bodies, minds and souls, on Trojan Horses wherever they are found.
No more should we stand by and allow our profession to be derailed while we are ridiculed. WE MUST POSSESS THIS TOP PRIORITY; WE MUST BATTLE WITH TROJAN HORSES and improve the quality of education in Liberia.
I am simply thinking thoughts.
About the author
The Rivercess Village man, Moses Blonkanjay Jackson is a triple Ivy League product, and a Jesuit protégé; Mr. Jackson is a Yale University Mathematics Curriculum Fellow, and a University of Pennsylvania Physics Curriculum Fellow. Mr. Jackson holds a Master of Education degree from Harvard University and a Master of Education with Secondary Mathematics concentration from Saint Joseph’s University. Blonkanjay is currently serving as Assistant Minister for Teacher Education.