Finally, in the pipeline: A National Education Policy for Liberia

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A small number of civic-minded graduates (Class of 2016) of Cuttington University are soon expected to be picked up by the radar in serious debate over launching – as a postgraduate project – a campaign designed to draw national attention to a long-awaited education policy that this government and any other should be happy to embrace, adopt and implement for the long term interest of the children of Liberia.

But first, such a challenge has to be accepted; this will be followed by the necessary groundwork. Then begins the process that is calculated to get the rest of the society involved in changing the way this nation regards its children and the way it goes about dealing with their now dire needs.

The above scenario, flowing from a ‘call-to-arms’ (rallying-call: My people, you all come let’s do something for our children!) was issued to 700 graduates from different fields of study a fortnight (two weeks) ago during the 55th Commencement Convocation of the Suacoco-based, Cuttington University.

It was made by the orator of the day, Counselor N. Oswald Tweh, a former graduate of Cuttington, who is today one of the nation’s top lawyers.

“We adults have a vital role to play in ensuring the full and total education of our youth and their success,” Counselor Tweh told the graduates; and to their families, friends and guests in attendance, he added: “It is both our duty and our obligation to make sure that they are educated. As leaders, elders, parents (and) guardians, we must make whatever sacrifice might be needed to ensure that our children meet the future needs of our nation. We must instill in them the zeal for education.

“What this calls for is a national education policy. Such an undertaking will eventually include parents, political parties, religious leaders, educators and even the government. And when the history of the national education policy – and what follows in its wake – is written, it will be to teachers, doctors, lawyers, educators, politicians, parents and other citizens from around the country to whom the upcoming generation and the next will have to pay their dues.

“But for starters, no more than a few committed and persistent individuals would be needed to switch on the ignition and get the vehicle moving, to start at all levels the involvement of the nation’s citizens in the full and wholesome education of Liberia’s young people. What better way to keep the torch burning – at full-blast than to burnish it and pass it on to the next generation, spurred on by the knowledge, understanding and conviction that each generation will remain at the forefront, and that the problems that confront them will be tackled by the entire society?”

“Yes We Can”

And it will happen, pundits and ordinary citizens believe, if for no other reason than because the centerpiece of the policy under consideration proclaims that: “The children are Liberia’s future.”

“No nation has ever reached its full potential without an adequate, educated, and skilled manpower base,” Counselor Tweh reminded his audience.

Like the children of other war-weary nations throughout history, Liberia’s Generation X has not fared well academically – not during the nation’s civil strife; not ever since – low test scores at every level of the academic ladder confirms the continuing pitiful performance of today’s youngsters.

This serious situation leaves Liberians no choice than to do everything they can to lift themselves and their children out of the education morass (mess, backwardness) they presently wallow (dragging on the ground) in, and eventually place themselves among the forward-moving peoples of this world, beginning with (who else?), the children.

Counselor Tweh’s speech seemed especially planned to spark serious thought and debate to enable this year’s graduating class to catch the vision, arriving at the same conclusion reached by those who helped mentor them along the way.

“Suffer the Little Children…”

Those civic-minded graduates in the forefront will have all the motivation they need for such an undertaking: “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not,” the disciples had heard from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself over two thousand years ago. “For of such is the kingdom of Heaven,” He had added.

And it was that very idea that Counselor Tweh tried to impress upon Cuttington’s 700 graduates: That in drawing no difference between that heavenly family of children and those placed in our midst – for and with us here on earth – the Lord Jesus well-understood that “upon the shoulders of children anywhere, the key to the future rests. Is there any doubt, then,” Counselor Tweh asked his listeners, “that our children are, and always must be, this nation’s first priority?”

Inspirations from the Past

They began planning and soon got the members of other classes fired up about their project. Senior priests and major choir directors from most of the local Episcopal churches, as well as their outstanding choristers, soon joined up.

The diocesan choir began practicing immediately, and was readied in time to perform for the National Convention held earlier this year.

It was in 1984, thirty-two years ago, that an America literary figure, Mr. Clarence Major, visited with members of the Liberia intelligentsia and sparked a conversation related to writing.

A group of Liberian writers and some of their professors included Theophilus Sonpon, Ruth Wuoh, Thomas Johnson, C. William Allen, Henry Gengsen, Althea Romeo-Mark, this writer, and a few others got together and launched the Liberia Association of Writers, LAW. Today, Law is ‘alive and kicking.’

“Go out then,” the managing partner of Pierre, Tweh and Associates challenged and encouraged the now excited graduates, “and do for future generations what the learning process and the society did for you during your journey through the halls of Cuttington.

“What you accomplish will ensure that the nation’s children reach adulthood equipped with the wherewithal (whatever it takes) to participate as productive members of society as a result of being placed first on the national agenda.”

Among the guests in attendance were: Episcopal Arch-Bishop B.B. Hart; International Bank CEO, Henry Saamoi; Dr. Kenneth Best, Alumnus; Dr. Benoni Urey, CU Board Member; and Mr. Charles Allen, President, Cuttington Alumni Association.

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