Editorial: Life After Graduation
ANOTHER GRADUATION SEASON is upon Liberia and hundreds of students are proudly walking through the corridors of higher institutions of learning full of hope and upbeat about the future. The sad reality is that many of those graduates are unlikely to find jobs, improve theirs or that of their families.
THIS HAS BEEN a recurring dilemma for Liberia, a post-war nation, with the title of Africa’s oldest independent nation, yet often finding itself in a state of recurring nightmares with each passing generation struggling to find their way.
THE COUNTRY has suffered serious brain drain and degradation as a result of the civil war.
TODAY. SCORES OF SKILLED LIBERIANS are residing in countries around the world, especially in parts of West Africa, Europe, the United States and Canada.
BACK HOME, the country’s education system is only a shell of what it used to be.
MOST OF THE SCHOOLS are ill-equipped with modern tools and technology to keep today’s youths on par with their peers in the rest of the world.
EXILED LIBERIANS who fled the war often aid the schools they attended with financial assistance through alumni associations, county associations and other Liberian organizations. However, much needs to be done and those aid are not as consistent or sufficient to do much more than to keep these institutions afloat or pay salary of teachers.
DUE TO BRAIN DRAIN, teachers struggle to adapt to the current realities because they themselves lack the training to impart serious knowledge on their students.
THE CIVIL WAR CAUSED LIBERIA to lose doctors, engineers, professors and other skilled professionals. Like most of the countries across the continent, Liberia has been pushed to the brink of a rather complex dilemma marred by poor educational system as many forced to leave because of war and/or political instability. Additionally, many who travel outside for studies are lured by the attraction of higher pay and better opportunities.
LAST WEEK, speakers are graduations at the United Methodist and AME Universities trumpeted the fact that the future remains gloomy and bleak for graduates leaving institutions of higher learning.
SERVING AS THE 17th Commencement Speaker of the United Methodist University (UMU), Mr. Alexander Cummings, political leader of the Alternative National Congress(ANC) lamented that where the human capacities of nations are weak, a nation is doomed to be poor. “The wealth of a nation is not measured in the heights of buildings but in the capacities of its citizens. This is why, when poor families sacrifice to send their children to school, when the children graduate, the families have a right to expect that their children will not lack equality in opportunity, to better their lives, in a country in which they are equal citizens.”
MR. CUMMINGS ALARMED THAT the harsh truth is that those shouldering the responsibility to guarantee equality in opportunity have not governed well enough to do so for all Liberians. “Too many of our citizens, like you, our graduates, who now hunger for, and have earned the right, to the opportunities they need to lift themselves and their parents out of the claws of poverty, are finding the opportunities unfairly restricted and difficult to come by. Yesterday, the same people who called and agitated for change – who promised a new dawn of equality of all Liberians – are today, committing the same wrongs, and worsening the already difficult conditions of the country, and our people. “
MR. CUMMINGS STATED that this does not mean that every Liberian will work in the government. But it means every Liberian, to the extent that they are ready to work hard, as well as discipline and invest in themselves, they must be enabled to own and participate fully in their economy, and have their interests prioritized in the management of and benefits from the natural wealth of the country. “At the heart of it, this really is why nations exist – to provide the best possibilities for all of the citizens of a nation,” he stated.
AT THE African Methodist Episcopal Zion University (AMEZU), Dr. Upjit Singh Sachdeva, the former Indian Honorary Counsel General to Liberia, challenged graduates to use the knowledge acquired to solve problems and “work like hell” to make a positive change in their respective lives and the society in general.
SERVING AS GUEST SPEAKER at the 30th Commencement Convocation of the AMEZU held in Vincent Town, Po River last Thursday, Dr. Sachdeva urged the graduates to always have in mind that they have been prepared not only on the academic front but also mentally to become problem solvers in their respective homes, workplaces, communities, the nation and the world at large. “Use your skills, your knowledge, and everything you have learned, to make real and meaningful change with them—and become your own problem-solvers. You may not be able to solve or fix all of your problems; but, you can surely fix some because you have been placed in the position through the education you have received to do so, and you must do so diligently and propitiously”.
IN A NATION where majority of the population are struggling to make it, fixes come with complications and bottlenecks. Therefore, government must do all it can to ensure that systems are put in place to make the environment conducive not just for those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder but those leaving the walls of institutions of higher learning without any hope for the future.
THESE ARE THE FUTURE leaders of Liberia and must be treated as such. If the institutions are not properly equipped to prepare graduates for life after graduation, it could spell doom for Liberia.