The Quest To Reform Liberia Education: Case of the Challenges Facing Liberian Education

Liberia stands upon the dawn and view the eventualities of the past and foretell those of the future. The states stands in need of assets not liabilities to manage its affairs, as guardians of public honor, as administrators of public affairs, as preservers of public peace, and as makers of laws that are to meet the legislation of other developed nations, and which must bind great men whose minds have been liberated and at the same time don’t fail to make provision for the commoner folks, these men must be intelligent else the old ship of the state will be driven upon the strata of icebergs which will lead to the floodgate of perennial confusion.

They must be able to give heed to the fascinating lures of national sirens and to distinguish gifts from bribes. If Liberia must be preserved, if she must bask in the sunshine of national prosperity and always be able to dictate her own policies, the strata of ignorance which has widened within her borders must be totally uprooted. Premium must be put on Education, for it alone promises prosperity for posterity.            

As our nation Liberia presses forward, from the inertia of fragility to stability, a monster enemy called corruption has overwhelmed if not any sector of the Liberian society then it might be the education system. This monster is gradually delaying our education quest for rapid reform and transformation from the woes of malpractices, moral ineptitudes and behavioral pitfalls.

The need for reform to our Liberian system of education is a dire concern. It has been the fearless march to the barricades of our Intrinsic values in the fight for educational reform and progress where failure loomed large as a possibility and victory as a dream so farfetched and abstract that now compels us to give our admiration to the fight others fought and are still fighting!

These scars are testimonies to our gallantry and accordingly we feel that we can entrust them with the sacrosanctity of posterity to carry us into the future. To alarm the challenges of education in Liberia is a fast track of the reform process where issues hindering our progress could be simplified and corrected.               

The depletion of moral values by political fortune hunters during the course of the Civil upheaval in Liberia is evidential to the reasonable minds; their exposure of the youthful generations to high level of academic indignities and ill-preparedness has culminated to the deform Educational System of our glorious Land of abundance and Prospects.

The pillage of our nation’s sacrosanctity from December 24, 1989 to October 1, 2003 along with the tearful woes of the Ebola Virus Disease resulted into exorcising the spirit of Academic Excellence. The reason for which our system of education has greeted retrogression with heroism rather than progression is due to the doctrine of allowing perpetrators of shocking crime to go with the culture of impunity.

How would those individuals who denigrated the sacredness of our Human intellects be the ones raining platitudes and absurdities on a system they spoiled in the past. Indeed it has been a tragedy for us and posterity. The planter of the evil tree should be more demonic than the evil tree, had it not been the planter there wouldn’t had been an evil tree, therefore those who sow youths as seeds of illiteracy in the past now tried to reap what they sowed. After they used them as child soldiers disguising them off the pangs of Academia and transfiguring them as militants to the thick Belleh forest, sidelining that they would have developed more and more had they not influence their roles in society. When will such ravished prestige of Academic Excellence be reinstated in Liberian Schools?

When will they admit to their corruption of Liberian system? We will preserve our race if we premier education and raid-it off the stupor. As we become acquainted with the laws of health and to know ourselves as centers of creative evolutions, when we realize that we are generating points around which great circles can be described, we become more careful with our lives so as to live void of disease contamination that might impede our divine ennoblement.

If we must be prosperous as a generation, we must have a sound mind in a sound body, these challenges cannot afford us a sound mind and body. Since our nation most sacred task is to prioritize a universal education which will reach all of her citizens.

Therefore education should be solely under the control of Government, because it is she that will deal with such people — have them solve her problems and sympathize her hardships. It is a very good thing for the Liberian government to know that the greatest peril of our fragile democracy, which we are fond and proud to boast of, lies in the illiteracy of the Liberian Youths. But it is still better to have the Youth become not wholly satisfied with her narrow, low standard and misleading sort of education that is imparted by some whose chief motives are to dwarf intellectual capabilities and to make an easy livelihood in this glorious land of Liberty.

The challenges of Education in Liberia are recurring features which have purveyed in a continuous function through the corridors of academics — bribery, corruption, bad labor practice, and exploitation, infrastructural and technical vices. THE QUEST TO REFORM LIBERIA EDUCATION appears in the context of a crusade guided by morals and ethics. It seems a journey of remarkable breakthrough from grass to grace.  

Cogently, Self-judgment awaits us all for our role we played in facing the challenges to protect and promote the sense of mankind. Our individual effort in achieving the goals to diminish corruption, sideline inept morals and activate the potential of moral competence, compels every Liberian student, Liberian teacher/administrator and our Liberian darling parents/guardians toward their stake of the reform process. However, the fundamental question has been: Have they individually performed their duties as called for in the reform process? Importantly, I have to stress here today that, our leaders’ appointment of corrupt officials to the nation’s most consecrated seats unarguably plays a pivotal role to the contempt they envisaged for Liberia in 2030.

After pronouncing free primary education, they sent their children away to learn so as to validate their arguments that the system is contemptuous. So then, why criticize a system that you bear the greatest burnt of its backwardness as evident to your deeds of the past as it haunts you today. After appointing enemies to the progress of the state they are expected to do nothing positive but to corrode the system more and more. How could an Imam be giving the task of a pastor? It’s certainly intolerable in the religious society, simply because the Imam’s orientation coupled with his passion is awkward to the duties of a Pastor, thus the division of Labor which is a driving tool for societal advancement will be silenced if the Imam is given such task.

Therefore, enemies to the progress of the state should not be placed in such positions. When these elements whose chief motives are to hold the security of the nation under systematic hostage are placed to theirs positions all they tend to do is live flashy lives forgetting to note the forward mobility of a country whose progress lies in the youths.

Importantly, Educational facilities and authorities become dysfunctional and lopsided because of unqualified individuals’ infiltration to our educational corridor; they only think of self-enrichment at the detriment of the pupils rather than preserving the future.

Every living creature anticipates a positive future, but for posterity, it cannot guarantee a positive future because authorities have frowned on building the foundation of youths in consonance with effective policies and laws governing our educational sector. The result of their ascendancy is to rape national covers because they have already been labeled as money-mongers who disguised themselves as vision bearers.

The proliferation of International Schools in our country has been given a negative picture from the labor practice. Concerned Lecturers seeking compensation immediately after the Covid-19 pandemic during which time Private authorities were demanding parents to defray their children arrears as the only guarantee to the MOE pronouncement of compulsory promotion for the unprecedented virus overwhelmed academic year.

Currently, instructors at one International school located on the Tubman Boulevard had been on a go slow for the past ten (10) working weeks. Again another group of concerned lecturers at another International School are alleging that their employer collects more than one hundred thousand Liberian Dollars (LD $100,000) per Senior Secondary student but refused to pay according to what is called for in the Decent Work Act of 2015 instead pay as high as ten thousand Liberian Dollar to a senior high instructor who needs the aid of technology and essential research materials to adequately prepared the students.

This is the current woe which in its modulo beclouds the journey to the fantasy in the reform-land. However, we could justifiable affirm that the position of the Monitoring and Evaluation Team of the MOE has been accelerated to a very floppy inertia. While we hold with esteem the glorification of educational reform, we have to alarm that Senior Secondary Institutions must begin to employ Laboratory Demonstrators so as to keep Liberian Students on par with regional and continental standards of education. There are lots more Senior High schools operating with no Laboratory and neither Demonstrator yet Liberian students are compelled by the standards of the regional test they also do Practical but they are lacking aspect of the sciences, they then encounter difficulty on their journey to the Examination hall and subsequently to college. The Monitoring and Evaluation team will need to make itself visible and proactive to lead the vanguard in this crusade for reform.

Liberia too can be a country where all its political subdivisions will have equal access to the educational reform. A Liberian society with zero illiteracy rate, preserved health, cyclical youth employment inspired by maximum creativity and innovation. A reform that will lead the floodgate of a pluralistic Liberian society. Liberia’s quest for reform could only diminish when the world lacks water.

Meanwhile, It is appropriate to discourage and boo away corruption and all of its accomplices. Our system of education has been disturbed by the application of malpractices therefore it needs to display in such a way so as to relieve the evil — by effectively monitoring and evaluating the quality of light each and every space of education profess to shine for a prosperous reform. Our system needs to abort conflict of interest and reward competent technicians based on the doctrine of merit. Our system needs uprightly practical and ethical approaches to the reform process. If we do not act now and instead see the process of reform as an aggrandizement, then we shall continuously bear the cross for ruining the reform.

Any generation whose glorifications premeditates tragedy for posterity and expose posterity to moral cruelty is a cancer in the courage of posterity, therefore the educated ones who see their appointments to public offices as a way to deplete national vaults are not makers of our history rather they are vulture eating up the flesh of our legends and burning the pages of our reformist struggle. Their moral bankruptcy has tagged them as outcasts to the making of the reform history. Officials of Educational authorities have inflicted wounds on our nurturing conscience by their stubborn refusal to revise our school’s curricula as evidential to the Academic season that succeeded the Corona Crisis. Our system failure to revise its curricula in line with the Regional Syllabus has caught students of this Academic year with severe difficulties. How could we then believe that their agitations are backed by the will to alter the course of their actions of the past? Indeed, for every cause there must be an effect.

Over the years our Liberian system of education have had dysfunctional correlation between teachers and parents therefore they have separately retarded the growth of the reform process. Those Liberian teachers who have saddened the necessities to meet the challenge with the parents to inform parents about their child/children performance and deportment, must stop the power bluff and influence the course of an unbalanced history, for it alone promises salvation for Liberian Youths.

Our system of education needs to quarantine educational malpractices in the abyss of pessimism. Those who see success from the dark side of things must be disintegrated from our system of reform and be scorned for misrepresenting the objectives of this quest to reform. This quest for reform does not hinge alone on discouraging corruption or imprisoning educational malpractices but also activating the terminal of moral competence. Competence is a very important commodity that should be purchased for the upgrade of our system.

Our system needs to set an uncompromising standard in the seed of education in other to harvest the crop of intelligence to direct the wheel of the reform wagon. Some of our fellow students’ moral deportment toward the quest to reform the educational system has an attention to behavioral pitfalls and this alone is a bully to the reform. I also affirmed that anyone who reads a sentence, must thank a Teacher — teachers in their tender quest to speedily reach the heart and mind of the students should be adored and accorded every modicum of respect and dignity.

The space and atmosphere of the classroom is an analogy of government where checks and balances are highly costumed not the case of the classroom where there is “THE SHIVERING CHALK”—intimidations, dishonor, discourteousness, immoral fervor and mental anguish suffered by the teacher who should be at the most relaxed position imparted.

Regrettably, National government budgets almost the highest annually for education, but has this joke been realized. Is this a dead aid to the glorification of the reform, money allotted for education but these efforts cannot be tangible to convince likes the doubting Thomas and Curious Alice. Even our brothers and sisters far away with studies find difficulties in getting their monthly allowances from government though there was a memorandum of understanding between government and our compeers; to no avail has this day dream be realized. Every government who feels that it owes responsibility to the youths has elements of progressiveness to the Educational reform movement, and to bring into prominence the notion that government is incomplete without the work force of competent youths. This is also the case with the teacher who puts interest in the progress of the discipline and intelligent student. Moreover, moral is a resourceful rescue for the reform of Liberian education.

Education as other administrations did, should be placed at the center of the development agenda. To prove this commitment is to allocate enough for education in the budget for Education in Liberia, on one hand may be hinder by act of corruption committed both by the administrators/teachers and the students/parents while on the other hand demean the ego of men who are adequately prepared for the reform.

The issue of bad labor practice has become a famous drink for more than two-thirds of the employers, particularly private schools. Most private institutions have reneged on compensating their employees as prescribed by the Decent Work Act 2015. This action in its entirety is a provocation to the profession of teaching – it invites intimidation and fear. Mathematically, if private schools’ teachers’ salaries are screened for income taxes by financial authorities of private institutions, then why have many private schools not affirming the codes of the Decent Work Act. The issue of bad labor practice has lost material essence due to its juxtaposition and over expression by administrators and teachers. Some private institutions have backed this act of bad labor practice based on their discernment with central government on subsidy for private schools.

However, private schools in their quest to maximize profit, increase their fees and tuition exorbitantly yet they underpaid teachers. The system of education in Liberia faced a very serious contention toward giving value and dignity to those who served with dedication and commitment to service. Bad Labor Practice has been an employer’s scheme to reach at an employee who appeared uncompromising on some critical issues.

Institution heads have usurped their position to market the practice of bad workmanship among those employees who dance not to their tone of double standards. The part of Liberia which make up the hinterland, bears the worst casualties of the brunt of Liberia educational pitfalls. The insolvency of lecturers and materials, the unfavorable infrastructure and professionals, inadequate logistics and stationeries coupled with no standard of motivation compels citizens to migrate in pursuit of education.

Notwithstanding, the system of education that have been pictured reflects not just Monrovia instead the fifteen sub-divisions of Liberia. Fortunately, the past administration advanced the cause of the reform process by influencing an Act of Legislation to construct junior colleges in seven of the fifteen counties. If Liberia must push fast beyond the radars of these challenges in education, the Act of Legislation should stretch out to the remaining eight counties in other to perish the illiteracy rate of the country. This move of perishing the illiteracy rate could only be possible with a viable reform in education. Where the priority of the government can establish a system of reform that will reach all the class of her citizens.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) through the lobbying maneuvering of past administrations, established thirty-nine (39) community, educational and vocational skills training centers nation-wide to provide literacy and skills training for war affected women and youth, with particular emphasis on former combatants and women in difficult circumstances. The MOE also designed and developed, in collaboration with UNICEF to place girls in protective social environment, thereby creating equal participation in all spheres of human coexistence. As evident to RFTF implementation, 107 schools were rehabilitated and renovated for the kick start of the Free Primary Education Program which hired more than four thousand teachers in June 2005 and assigned them to all corners of Liberia needy of education. The reform wheel asked in ponder, are those professional family heads been maintained till date as they comfortably prepare the future Liberian Sunshine Patriot?

In summation, Education develops the extrasensory nature of the mind of a being. To whatever extend other faculties are developed, however strong, wealthy, and learned youth, if we are not mentally developed, we cannot taste the Nirvana of prosperity. When a youth is so developed, he/she recognizes his moral obligations, his own rights as well as the rights of others; then there is no need for jails, and law courts. Every crime that has been committed can be traced back to the violation of the moral laws by somebody. You have often stood in the courtrooms when courageous and legal men were being tried for their lives; and after the trial you have listened to the judge in his solemn manner pronounce sentence of life detention upon the prisoner before the bar. There is a state at the loss of one more of her citizens doomed for eternity, one more family bowed down in somewhere in grief and shame, one more vicious sheet placed in the history of time to be read by generations present and to come, a few more pounds for the State to pay as the cost of the prosecution.

Guest what? Borrowing senior compatriot Christine Tolbert- Norman revered words from her masterpiece Wind of Change: …. “Education will cause this tragic drama to cease being enacted and will keep the dummy head of that horrid monster, Corruption, from being reared”.

To be prosperous as a nation, we must develop all the terminals of the Liberian potential of education, and its philosophy, and though we be as white as the Progressive Tolbert’s coat, though we be as red as the rage of Africa’s Greatest Mother Johnson-Sirleaf, though our skin be as black as the uncertainty before the dawn of the reform, we will find reform not distant from our quest.

Ignorance is sin and sin is the very shackle of corruption, but reform alone is hope for a Brighter Liberia.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel Trokon Bestman is a Liberian student admission at Stella Maris Polytechnic University majoring Civil Engineering. Mr. Bestman previously worked as an erudite Math Lecturer to scores of private institutions as a young teacher for more than a decade before his frustrating abandonment of chalk. He is a prospective graduate of the Stella Maris Polytechnic University who has unfortunately dropped out of studies due to financial problems. He is the Executive Director for the ACADEMIC FREEDOM ADVOCATES OF LIBERIA a company of youthful Liberian educators and researchers. He could be reached at dtbestman@gmail.com/+231776811809 or +231880618248

                                              

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