Liberia’s Education Minister Questions Essence of Presidential Debate


Monrovia – He’s supposed to be the man responsible for managing and improving education in Liberia – a country which education system is so devastated and remains one of the worst in the region – yet to him, education is not what it takes to develop a country.

Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]

‘Da Book We’ll Eat?’

A few hours to the start of the presidential debate on Thursday, Education Minister George Werner questioned the efficacy of holding debates as a means of attracting votes in the upcoming Liberia.

Mr. Werner posted: “What’s the purpose of political debates in Liberia, and who are the debates for?

Where’s the evidence that a candidate became president in Liberia because s/he was a great debater?

Let those who manage the candidates advise them to campaign to their strengths. Don’t debate if it isn’t your strength.

There are many other ways to articulate your platform or vision for the country.

The debates could be a setup by the meritocratic elite (for the elite) to show how educated and knowledgeable they are.

It’s been an essential part of Liberian history, of exclusion even, to eliminate the perceived uneducated through “book” talk.

Read between the lines and see the edited videos of Weah’s speeches on social media.

Da book talk we’ll eat? For those who are surprised by this post, I haven’t changed my views since 2004.

For Werner, many politicians flex their intellectualism to roll up lies to the ordinary people who have limited education.

He went on to write: “They like hiding behind books to lie to the people.

How does a debate, an intellectual exercise, help you to “live Liberia, think Liberia, and love Liberia”? By the way, who won the debates in 2005 and 2011? Where are they now?”

He continued: “To the book people, education does not promote equality and shared prosperity. Education alone is not enough to make anyone a “good” leader.

The suggestion that all must participate in debates to justify their quest for leadership and their ‘educatedness” is tabata (origin in Kru, anything that does not make sense), to say the least. How about meeting voters in the palava huts, under the trees, in their communities and homes.

By the way, don’t use the schools and break the desks and chairs. Advice to all candidates: campaign to your strengths. Don’t follow the meritocratic elites’ intellectual stagecraft. They set it up to their advantage with their unscrupulous recorders and editors.”

But his Facebook comments was greeted with stiff reactions, most of which condemned him in his capacity as education minister condemning the beauty of attaining and presenting to the public the substance individuals hoping to be Liberia’s next President are made of.

Some comments sparked by Werner’s post:

O’Hara Everett Teah Education Minister my foot.
George Kronnisanyon Werner is a contradiction to his position.

Jarbee Fofana The minister is speaking nonsense and he should resign his post for polluting our educational system. This guy is a complete disgrace to the Liberian government.

Mohammed Keneya Konneh An education minister is talking like this. I see no wonder why our education system is such a mess?

Alphonso Belleh George is a disgrace and a fool to our system because as Minister of Education to write on his page to say we don’t need education to eat.

Joseph Gray An education Minister should be encouraging sound stewardship and promoting intellectualism for the development of a fully industrial society which is obtainable through education

Lucia Klaneh Wilson The minister knows exactly the point he’s speaking from.

Taking into consideration wide ranging confronting the governance in Liberia, the Deepening Democracy Coalition (DDC) organized its first Presidential Debate at the Paynesville City Hall on Thursday, August 17. Originally, six presidential candidates were invited to participate in the debate, however, only four turned out.

The presidential candidates who were invited to outline their governance proposals to the Liberian people include Mr. Benoni Urey, Standard Bearer of the All Liberian Party, Mr. Alexander Cummings, Standard Bearer of the Alternative National Congress, and Dr. J. Mills Jones, Standard Bearer of the Movement for Economic Empowerment. Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Standard Bearer of the Unity Party, Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine, Standard Bearer of the Liberty Party, and Sen. George M. Weah, Standard Bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change will also be present.

Senator Weah and Dr. Jones did not attend.

During the debate each candidate was asked to outline his plans for six key areas: the economy; security and rule of law; peace and reconciliation; anti-corruption policy; agriculture; and youth empowerment. The candidates will also be asked to explain how their plans will be rolled out and funded.