Louisiana – National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA) Director General, Emma Metieh Glassco, is recommending the diversification of Liberian academic programs as a necessary step towards creating a prepared nation capable of addressing current and future challenges. She emphasizes that this call should serve as a national initiative involving all educational stakeholders, including the government.
By Willie N. Tokpah
Glassco stated, “Diversification in our academic programs is an essential step forward in creating a prepared nation for the future. This should serve as a national call to action for all educational stakeholders, including the government, to increase investments in the educational sector, which is practically the only way to elevate Liberia’s economic status.”
Glassco believes that diversifying Liberian academic programs will lead to increased investments in the educational sector, which is crucial for improving Liberia’s economic standing.
During her keynote address on Tuesday, May 30, at the University of Liberia’s 103rd commencement convocation in Fendell, Louisiana, Montserrado County, Glassco challenged academic institutions to offer additional programs beyond the traditional fields such as medicine, law, accounting, public administration, and sociology.
She urged administrators of academic institutions not to restrict students’ skill development to meet immediate market demand but to cultivate a variety of skills that can be marketable regionally and globally.
Drawing on the example of the Republic of Cuba, Glassco mentioned that Liberia could export its labor force to attract foreign remittances, similar to Cuba’s healthcare services exports by sending physicians, nurses, and healthcare technicians to other countries. She emphasized that Liberia has the potential to do the same or even better, considering the country’s record of once having the most sophisticated labor force in West Africa during the 1960s.
Glassco further urged the government and private sectors to focus on skills development to tap into emerging industries, such as the multi-billion dollar seaweed industry, for which Liberia is a natural habitat. She highlighted the value of seaweed as a resource with various applications such as food, animal feed, fertilizers, cosmetics, and industrial gums. Indonesia is currently the leading exporter in this industry, followed by America and China.
The NaFAA Boss also pointed out the importance of mango as a globally consumed fruit. She suggested that substantial investments can be made in mango production to boost the viability of the Liberian agricultural sector, thus creating a value chain from harvest to processing and export. She cited Mali as a leading exporter of mango, currently exporting 600,000 metric tons and generating a revenue of 30 million dollars annually.
“We need to build a society of creativity and innovation, utilizing our available resources to make us more independent and self-sufficient, aiming to become an export-based economy rather than an import-dependent one. I strongly believe we can produce enough to feed ourselves and share with the world,” Glassco asserted.
Meanwhile, Glassco challenged the graduates to explore new opportunities in the private sector to contribute to Liberia’s growth instead of immediately seeking job opportunities in the government after graduation. She explained that nation-building is a collective effort, and if Liberians aspire to build a new Liberia, everyone must strive to create a better nation by thinking creatively and innovatively.
Glassco’s address was delivered to graduates from the combined Thomas J.R. Faulkner College of Sciences and Technology, School of Nursing and Midwifery, William R. Tubman Jr College of Agriculture and Forestry, and Engineering Colleges.