As Independence Day and Flag Day approach, the new Minister of Education, George Werner, has time to ensure that Liberian students across the country are fully prepared to participate in these important national occasions.
This will be his first opportunity to organize the students for anything. Now that he has cancelled the West African National Exams (WAEC), the new Minister has a chance to think creatively of how to engage Liberia’s students in preparation for these two important national holidays, Independence and Flag Days.
Flag Day is admittedly more related to the Education Ministry. It is education that organizes the parades in which the various schools compete for prizes in drilling. We think the Minister should encourage all schools to perfect their drilling, by perhaps engaging the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to assist in teaching drilling skills to ensure best performances on Flag Day. There is an AFL contingent in every county. They should be contacted, through the Ministry of National Defense, to help train the students in drilling and marching. Flag Day should not only be a Monrovia thing; it should be celebrated throughout the country, with all schools required to participate in the event. And there are enough thinking and articulate people everywhere to deliver the Flag Day Oration.
In addition, the Education Ministry should ensure that all schools are provided with flags—county and national. The Ministry does not have to spend its own money on that. It should encourage the schools to contact local people and businesses to donate the flags—big ones and small ones for the occasion. All students, even at the kindergarten level, should be taught about the flag, the seal and the history behind both, so that the one-day event, Flag Day, will be remembered not just for the fun of drilling, but also for the true significance of the Day. Can Minister Werner organize the printing of pamphlets and books about the Liberian Flag, so that all students get to know how the flag came about, its makers, its style and the significance of all the elements it contains?
As the Governance Commission proceeds with further discussions on National Symbols, Education should get involved by encouraging students contribute their thoughts on these issues. Tell the schools to get their students to write about these things. They are not too young to begin thinking and writing about these important issues in our national life.
As for the indoor programs, perhaps Minister Werner could dispatch a team of program organizers throughout the country helping District Education Officers and County School Supervisors to develop creative programs commemorating the Day. We realize, too, that there may be some local experts in the counties, especially the older ones—in the first nine counties, especially—who already know what to do and only need to be asked.
Is it possible that Minister Werner could identify one youthful person with extraordinary talents to be this year’s National Flag Day Orator in each county? I believe President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf would welcome such an innovation to encourage our young.
The Daily Observer newspaper which, since its beginning in February 1981, has run a weekly Poetry Page could help the Education Ministry to organize a national poetry competition on the Flag, Seal and on the subject of Patriotism. There are many enlightened businessmen and women and public spirited individuals throughout the country who would willingly donate prizes for such scheme.
When it comes to Independence Day, it is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not Education, that is normally involved in the planning of activities for this day. But this does not mean that Education can’t or shouldn’t also be involved. For starts, how about the Ministry organizing an Essay Competition on The Meaning of Liberia’s Independence for both elementary and high schools? Foreign Minister
Augustine Ngafuan, being himself a man of letters—a poet and writer—would welcome such an initiative.
Minister Werner could also organize a roundtable of his staff and invite some educational experts or school authorities to brainstorm on how the schools might be involved in Independence Day activities. We think this would help instill some patriotism in our students, and help them understand the meaning, purpose and vision of Liberia’s independence.
Let the Ministry of Education use this time to think out of the box and engage our students creatively and constructively in relation to these two important national holidays, even as the Ministry wrestles with the more vexing challenges which at this time confronts Liberia’s educational system