AfDB Announcement Coincides with Daily Observer Editorial

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On the same day Liberia’s Daily Observer published its Editorial calling on Liberia’s Education Minister Ansu Sonii to strengthen Math and Science “at all levels” in the nation’s Education System, the African Development Bank (AfDB) announced that it had decided to “scale up investments in Science and Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.”

The AfDB said they were undertaking this most important initiative in the continent’s education in partnership with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS).  The Partnership, said the AfDB, “would be tasked with scaling up a strong, young African community of world-class scientists and technologists.”

It was only on Monday morning, on the campus of Liberia’s leading technical and vocational School, the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), that the President of Liberia, George M. Weah, opened the National Education Conference and announced a 10-Year Strategic National Education Program.  Four focal points have been carved for the Plan: Curricular Development, Teacher Development, School Management and Equipped Infrastructure.

This four-focal point Agenda was the main focus of the Observer’s Editorial two days later—on Wednesday, the same day the AfDB made its announcement to strengthen Science, Math and Technology in African education.

What a remarkable coincidence!  The Observer’s Editorial focused on the 10-Year Strategic Education Plan’s first point—“Curricular Development.”  In addition to pleading with the Education Minister to include Civics in the new curricular, the Editorial’s very next point dealt forthrightly with Math, Science and Technology.  “… we need to strengthen our Math and Science programs,” the Editorial said, adding, “In this Information Age in which we now live, which has gripped every fabric of the society, Math and Science are crucial and must be strengthened at all levels of education.”

This charge, directed primarily at Liberia’s Education Minister Ansu Sonii, was followed by another urgent concern of the AfDB and the AIMS—Technology.  Said the Observer Editorial, “Technology should be seriously taught throughout the school system.  We see that our children, many before they turn eight, are using the cell phone.   And so many of our children, even in elementary school, are using the cell phone to do their homework and [research] assignments.  Technology is, therefore, now a vital part of all our lives.  Instruction in Technology would push our students further ahead in their educational sojourn and help them become better students.”  We could have added, “and prepare them to face the future with confidence.”

Now, scarcely 24 hours later, comes the African Development Bank, in strategic partnership with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, (AIMS), determined “to explore partnerships for scaling up investments in Science, Engineering and Mathematics.”  Their target: “a strong, young African community of world-class scientists and technologists.”

Two senior officers, the AfDB’s Jennifer Blanke, Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, and AIMS’s President and CEO,  Thierry Zomahous, spoke for the two organizations.  They said their two organizations will attempt “to leverage resources to develop and strengthen advanced science, technology and innovative skills as well as the knowledge required to drive the modern economy in Africa.”

As for AIMS, it has a huge ambition, “to become the MIT of Africa,” referring to the renowned American school, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

We thank God for this extraordinary coincidence, the Daily Observer and the AfDB/AIMS partnership coming up with the same vision for Liberia and for Africa.

What does this tell us? It tells us that Liberia’s Ministry of Education and most especially its new Minister, Ansu Sonii, is in sync with both the AfDB and AIMS.  The word sync means synchronization — to make happen at the same time; to coexist — to exist together or at the same time.

Minister Sonii and his team at Education, backed financially by President Weah’s government, must now work very hard to ensure that they are not left behind.

What this also means is that Minister Sonii should immediately commence engagement with the AfDB and AIMS for assistance in helping Liberia to move in the same direction that these two great African institutions are moving.  We are sure that if contacted, and contacted ASAP (As Soon As Possible), they will be willing to help Liberia to achieve its objectives, which are to help Liberia and its schools, colleges and universities to improve their teaching of Math, Science and Technology and, in the process, accelerate Liberia’s march to modernity.

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