Dr. Joseph Korto, Othello Gongar, Madam Etmonia Tarpeh, yea President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf—What Will Your Educational Legacy Be? The three served their President and the country as her first Education Ministers.
We hope and pray that this critical question will be seriously pondered by ALL those who will be coming into office following the 2017 elections: What will your legacy be—in education or any other sector of national life?
In other words, do not just run for President, the Legislature or seek office just for office sake, but have a strategic plan of action to HELP your country improve in your particular sector—the sector in which you have acquired training, or the one for which you have a passion to help. One thing must be on your mind—“For the good of the Liberian people, I am determined to work so hard, so honestly, so sacrificially, to leave my sector better than I met it.”
With that mindset, burning with commitment, determination and zeal to make Liberia better, you will not wait until several years have lapsed—and they can go by far faster than you think—to ask yourself “What legacy will I leave?”
In the eleventh hour of the Ellen administration, we wish to lay this charge particularly at the feet of two Ministers—Agriculture Minister Moses Zinnah and Education Minister George Werner. For it seems to us that right now these two posts in the Liberian government hold not just the greatest challenges, but also the most tangible opportunities to make a BIG difference that ALL will be able to see.
If Minister Zinnah can engage our farmers to grow rice and help them mill it, store it and sell it, we may, at long last, be finally on our way to self-sufficiency. If he can empower the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI) to do the research and carry the benefits to farmers throughout the country, we could be on our way to self-sufficiency in vegetables, better production in cassava, coffee, cocoa, fruits and even flowers and meat.
Should Education Minister Werner truly grasp the country’s current educational needs—well trained teachers, books and classroom supplies, computers, chairs—and put his mind, heart, soul and hands to fulfilling these needs right away throughout the country, he could redeem all his predecessors and the Ellen administration by seriously attempting, at last, to fix Liberian education.
For starters, let the Education Minister take note of the plight of the schools nearest the nation’s capital and grasp the magnitude of the problem. Last Tuesday the Superintendents of Bomi and Margibi counties told an educational stakeholders meeting how worried they were about the poor learning environment in their counties. These included poorly prepared teachers, absenteeism, even among principals, lack of books and other educational supplies, chairs, etc.
Margibi Superintendent John Z. Buway told the conference, organized by the leader of Crusaders for Peace and Cultural Ambassador Julie Endee, that many of the children in his county are “sitting on the floor due to the lack of classroom chairs.”
If the schools so close to the capital are in such desperate and deplorable state, think of those far away in the country’s interior. The issue here is not just money. Yes, the Sirleaf Administration must find the financial resources quickly to empower Education to hire the most qualified teachers and equip the schools throughout the country with books and supplies so as to enable them to put out better students. Even more important, however, is how that money will be used.
During the Cabinet retreat last weekend, the President warned against theft, which many officials, especially in the eleventh hour of this administration, might be tempted to engage in. Now is the time for all public officials to redouble their commitment to the cause of their country and help their administration in the gallop (sprint) to the finish line. Should they run conscientiously and with dedication to the finish, they and the President would all look good.
May God grant that they will!