Degrees with no relevance
--Former UP Chair Modad critiques education in Liberia
By Lincoln G. Peters
Opposition Unity Party (UP) former chairman Mr. Amin Modad is seeking an answer to why many Liberians study Public Administration and other courses that are not ‘relevant’ to the growth of the country.
“Why is everyone pursuing Law and Public Administration degrees when we don’t have skilled engineers, electricians, carpenters, agriculturists, hotel managers, [and] teachers?” said Modad.
Speaking recently in Sinkor when Salvation Army Polytechnic graduated scores of students in various professional academic disciplines, Modad warned that until national cautiousness and aspirations are in line with a long-term national agenda, Liberians are not going anywhere.
“We have a lot of formal academic degree holders in our society, many people who are aging without jobs, who are not contributing anything to our growth and transformation,” said Mr. Modad.
He warned further that poverty will be entrenched in the country, and lamented that many of these degrees have “no relevance to where we are as a people and where we want to be as a people.”
“We need to understand that our comparative advantage lies in our society and our economy in our resources. We have … rainfall, fertile soil, and enough fish in our waters. Now we don’t have farms and improved value-addition sites,” Modad lamented.
He stated that Liberia is still importing rice, edible oil, and other things that can be locally produced at home here.
He admonished the graduates that Liberia is at a crossroads once again, saying the economy is declining, and quality education and healthcare are scarce and costly.
The former UP chair stated that good-paying jobs are hard to find and the cost of living is increasing every day.
Additionally, he argued that the economy here is still in the hands of foreigners, leaving him to wonder why Liberians anticipate an increase in road works and an expansion of service industries.
According to Modad, Liberia is still importing manpower from neighboring countries to address the skills and professional gap in society.
He told the graduates that as they become more and more responsible for themselves and others, they will be confronted by setbacks, failures, and disappointments.
“But I assure you today your graduation is a testament to the many possibilities, and your capacity to see them as challenges,” he said.
Modad recommended that the Government of Liberia builds the technical capacity of the younger generation.
“Why there are many issues affecting our educational system, we need to understand that … formal education is a small part of our nation,” said Mr. Modad.
“We need to build a more viable, vibrant, and technical skill workforce and provide opportunities for you to grow beyond these certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees,” he noted.
“This is why I am so pleased to see you graduating with degrees and training in technical areas,” he continued.
But he also challenged the students that their graduation from the polytechnic should not make them feel that their time of challenges in life is over.
Instead, he reminded them to see it as the beginning of their struggle.
He admonished the graduates that they are going out in a country where getting a job is difficult, and as such, they need to be strong and fight for their space in life.
“I however admonish you not to be complacent about your graduation today. You have just only crossed the first major hurt in your life,” he said.
He disclosed that life is about choices people make, and if the graduates have made up their minds for a specific career, they need to be focused.
Meanwhile, Mr. Modad has praised the graduates’ parents for their efforts in supporting them at the polytechnic.
He added that the choices made by their parents were in the right direction.
“Now you have the support of your parents, family, and friends. I will not stand here and tell you that life will be easy as it has been for you thus far,” he noted.
He said their graduation is not only celebrating their [successes], but it is also celebrating the decision each of them made to be more than ordinary and to play a relevant role in their country.
For his part, the president of the Salvation Army Polytechnic, Dr. Emmanuel Urey Yarkpawolo congratulated the graduates and admonished them to remain focused on their careers as they go all out into society.
Prof. Urey Yarkpawolo lauded the parents of the graduates for their efforts in supporting their children. He added that their graduation was just the beginning of their journey to a greater level in life.