It has been almost seven months since Liberia’s premier oasis of tertiary education was shut down. The University of Liberia along with other higher institutions of learning had to terminate normal activities as a result of an unusual and deadly virus. The devastating effect of Ebola could not allow over 36,000 students to pursue their academic ambitions and career paths. Due to the hard-hitting impact of this lethal malady (Ebola), there were compelling reasons to discontinue all classes. Since July 30, 2014, Article 15(b) of our Constitution which guarantees education as a fundamental human right has been seriously undermined. This horrifying plague has cruelly wrecked some of our comrades and compatriots. Our recent past as a nation can never be forgotten as we proceed to another height.
There are so many heartbreaking stories to explain. There are painful accounts to narrate. There are depressing scenes and adverse episodes to reflect on. The gloomy atmosphere speaks volumes about how far we have come. The life-threatening signs of yesterday are visibly pervading every stratum of our mutuality. The tender breeze of public harmony and happiness has vanished as our nation grapples with widespread trauma and fear. The intensity of panic existing among Liberians is disquieting as Ebola resurfaces after weeks of no new case(s). Our daring courage and determination to crush this virulent disease must remain a national priority. We must seize this moment to demonstrate an unbending semblance of loyalty, allegiance, and patriotism. It is time to permanently bury the shadow of complacency, dishonesty, and insincerity.
The road to overcoming Ebola may seem hilly and rocky, but our collective commitment to nationhood shall certainly breed a triumphant journey. This fight is between life and death. The fight to safeguard our sovereignty is not about which party takes power three years from now. It is not about CDC, Unity Party, Liberty Party, NUDP, NPP, PUP, or ANC. It goes beyond who becomes our next President, Vice President or Lawmakers in 2017. If we fail to unite now as one people to protect our destiny and supreme identity, generations after us will render our time on earth worthless and shameful. There are two options momentarily to consider as we reconsolidate to finally rise above Ebola. Either we integrate to help ourselves or disintegrate to hurt our future.
The journey may seem unending in some quarters. Some still have doubts about our ability to disfigure and totally wipe away Ebola, but in due course, VICTORY shall become our theme. With time, this pandemic shall become history. This outbreak has taught us a preponderance of lessons. It has taught us a lesson to always use our ballots wisely. It has taught us a lesson to institute robust reforms in order to build a modern health system. It has taught us a lesson to invest more resources in our academic system. It has taught us a lesson to adequately empower public health practitioners and medical personnel. It has also taught us a lesson to always prepare ourselves for potential disasters. The nation is bleeding because of bad governance. Liberians especially university students are drowning because state actors were careless about prioritizing quality education.
America cannot reach us to the end of our journey. Great Britain cannot do more than what we can do for ourselves. Germany, France, Canada, China, Sweden, and other friendly nations cannot help us more than we can help ourselves. The endless economic reliance of Liberia on the IMF, AfDB and IBRD is creating double jeopardy for our nation and its people. Aids and Grants are harming us. No wonder our society is encountering extreme vulnerability and gullibility. This government could not save more lives because of its dependence solely on foreign assistance. I wonder sometimes whether Liberia is not endowed with abundant natural resources. We would have averted this disastrous epidemic like Senegal and Nigeria did, if public resources were properly managed by state actors yesteryear. Sadly and shamefully, our nation was at the verge of economic collapse before Ebola surfaced due to nepotism, elitism, sectarianism, and unpatriotic behavior. It is disappointing that corruption has glaringly metamorphosed into VAMPIRES and VULTURES.
As a result of Ebola, 4283 of our comrades and compatriots fell prey including students from the University of Liberia. We deeply regret these deaths and extend our utmost sympathy to affected families. There are thousands of orphans and hundreds of widows, widowers and survivors today who need adequate care in order to avoid further discrimination. I hope all of us will begin to embrace and assist them during these darkest days. Our journey against this disease as a University and Country can only come to an end if everyone takes full responsibility to observe all stringent health measures. It is the primary duty of every student including teachers to keep the campuses of the University of Liberia safe from Ebola. It was because of this outbreak, students had to be out of school for more than six consecutive months.
The reopening of all schools by this government on February 16, 2015 was welcomed even though students of UL were further denied from acquiring basic tertiary education for another month due to FUNDING IMPEDIMENTS. While few students from Cuttington University, Stella Maris Polytechnic, AMEU, UMU, AMEZU, Adventist University, St. Clement University College, and other higher institutions were attending regular classes, the ‘right to education’ of over 36,000 UL students was trampled upon. We owe it to Africa’s most consistent and structural student-based political party, THE EVER POTENT VANGUARD STUDENT UNIFICATION PARTY. When some deceitful public trustees were playing politics with the reopening of the University of Liberia, SUP was fast in detecting their pitiless scheme and sinister agenda. This great PARTY could not stop demanding the immediate reopening of UL. Students of UL owe it to the revolutionary and farsighted Chairman, Nathan Kpao and all illustrious stalwarts of SUP for selflessly standing tall to ensure UL reopened. The fight for basic reforms at UL has just begun and SUP remains relentless in this struggle for inclusive academic change. Truly, SUP is an incomparable beacon of hope for all students.
We deem it fitting to welcome all of our comrades and instructors back to school after a prolonged period of adversity. We are aware that our time out of school was tough and rough, but nothing has ever dampened our courage to keep holding on. The journey of ebola will soon be over. The journey of poor education will come to an end one day. The journey of begging for scholarships and aids, even though education is a right is nearing completion.
The journey of backwardness at the University of Liberia is about to dissipate. It is time for us students to engage those who are responsible for making UL a better learning environment for ALL. Students of UL need to rise above self-pity, pride and greed in order to demand their rights. The Student Unification Party (SUP) remains an uncompromising partner to those who believe in QUALITY EDUCATION and ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE.
As Ebola continues to threaten our destiny, we recommend the following steps:
- Provide sufficient thermometers to regularly test body temperature.
- Ensure that Ebola Buckets/Drums are positioned at ideal locations for hand washing purposes.
- At least two Janitors/Caretakers must be assigned to a bathroom at a time.
- Create a system of spacing in all classrooms in order to avoid close/direct contact.
- Hire at least two public health volunteers on each campus to ensure stringent measures of Ebola are adhered to.
- Increase ebola awareness through sensitization and education. (Leaflets, flyers, and banners are crucial).
A pleasant welcome to all comrades!!! We must fight together until this journey is over. It takes commitment, gallantry, persistence, and integrity. May God bless UL and safeguard its beneficiaries as well as benefactors. Amandla Awethu!!
About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth activist and an emerging economist. He is currently a student of the University of Liberia reading Economics and a member of the Student Unification Party (SUP). He can be reached at: [email protected]