It was three years ago when I was appointed as Media Consultant at the Civil Servant Agency (CSA), a government agency with oversight responsibility of managing the affairs of the oodles of government employees including administration of test to identify potential qualified Liberians to fill various posts in government. The Agency is also responsible to augment efficiency in the civil service and also act as the central personnel agency. It is in charge of improving the human resources, service delivery, effectiveness and efficiency of the service, which entails planning human capacity needs, staffing and selection, training and expansion, performance management, and career development of civil servants across the country.
During my time at the Agency, it was headed by Dr. William Allen, now Liberia’s Ambassador to France, a delegated public servant. As I walked in on that Monday morning, I was introduced to a young man dressed in a green T-shirt with a black coat covering. A blue light seemed to flash from his right ear. Anxious to know what that was, I took a glance and realized it was a Bluetooth earpiece, a wireless device used to communicate with phones that support sound transmission. It helps with multitasking in case a phone call is received while the hands are full of activities.
He gave me a smile and said “Welcome to the Civil Service Agency.” George accommodated me in his office. It was actually quarter of the size of a normal room. Despite his office size, he still decided to share it with me and of course we did WONDERS from that space. He never stopped reading newspapers or books. His drawer and tiny desk were full of books and journals. He barely had space for his laptop. He was constantly receiving calls from China and Turkey and I would sometimes pretend not to be following his conversations when he was on the phone. I actually followed every morsel of it. Sorry, George, the ears were hard to control. I sometime pondered why most of his calls were coming from China and Turkey-oh I later realized that in addition to being the Technical Consultant to Dr. Allen, he was head of the Inter-ministerial Scholarship Committee and most of the scholarship students were in China or Turkey. He even knew all the beneficiaries by name or recognized their voices when they got in touch with him. He created that close connection with everyone that my first interaction with him seemed like a year.
My first day in George’s office went well. It was an adjustment period and orientation day, full of fun, of course, with scores of questions from him. I knew in my mind that most of the questions he was asking me, he had answers for but chose to ask me to hear my independent opinion. I remembered him asking a specific question concerning MERIT. The question was based on a story he was reading in one of the local dailies about an opposition figure suggesting that the government should be a government of inclusion. The story quoted that opposition leader as suggesting that the President should consider appointing people from various political parties to posts in government. In his opinion, the issue was inclusion.
When I saw George laugh and adjust his glasses, I knew he was getting his eyes on either a run-on sentence in a particular story in the paper or something eerie. He highlighted the finicky phrase with a green marker and pushed the paper across the desk to me. “What do you think about this guy’s suggestion?” I looked in his face and wanted to give him an opposite personal answer but it was my first interaction and I remembered the popular phrase; “You will not have a second chance to make the first impression.” I giggled and said to him, “I think appointment in government should be based on merit. Qualification plays a major role in every appointment. The President should appoint people who are qualified and willing to sacrifice to rebuild the country and not simply because she wants an inclusion. It will hurt the government.” George never again said a word as he made his way out of the office for a daily briefing with Dr. Allen.
During our one-year of interaction, George had a good understanding about Education. His understanding about generational change involving the young people was just incredible. He longed for a time when our high school students would be able to compete with students within and even outside the region. He wanted a complete overhauling of the educational sector of the country and in his broken Kru language he reminded me on several occasions by saying “Teenakho.” When I asked him about the meaning he responded, “It’s our time,” referring to the younger generation. He was a classroom teacher, a study class teacher and a well-seasoned administrator.
The challenging moment came when I started producing a magazine for the CSA and George was asked by the Agency to serve as the Editor. Ooo boy, it was challenging. George edited from “A-Z,” including paragraph style, fonts and sometimes colors and photo placement. On many occasions, when I thought the editing was finished and it was time to go to press, I was always wrong. “Why do you know so much, George? I sometime asked him but his responses were always a smile.
To fast-forward, it was indeed no surprise when I read about the Ministry of Education’s new policy regarding school closure and George’s quest in overhauling the educational system of our country now serving as the Minister, the man in charge of Education.
His plans were crafted years ago in his head and opportunity just came the right time to actualize them. He should be given the opportunity to do so. Some developmental initiatives come with sacrifices. George is speaking from experience. His time from working with Liberian students around the world and interview with thousands of young men and women, who passed by his office daily seeking scholarships further give him a better understand of why it was necessary to revamp our educational system. It’s too early to start the opposition…yes the OPPOSITION. We therefore need leaders that can “understand.” Believe me- George does WONDERS and means well for our educational system. It’s no time for politicking or measuring muscles. Let’s rally around George and support his effort to see a better Liberia; a Liberia where a 5th grader will be able to work his way around. Do you know that we, too, need scientists and more medical doctors? Ok, it starts from the foundation in primary school. “Teenakho.”
About the Writer
Daylue Goah is a former Layout Editor of the Daily Observer newspaper, former Media Consultant to the Director General of the Civil Service Agency and Former Communications Specialist of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center among others. He holds a Post-Graduate Degree in Multimedia from India and currently serves as Manager for the General Printing Company in Milwaukee, Wiscons, United States of America. He can be reached through [email protected] or [email protected]