“Our sixth and ninth graders are below average in math and reading, and our twelfth graders rank near the bottom. Many of our students graduating from high school and college are reading and writing at the junior high or elementary school level. For these young people to lead us to a more prosperous future, we have to invest more in their basic education”, said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Monday when she delivered her Annual Message to the 53rd Liberian Legislature in Monrovia.
This is the stark reality facing the nation’s educational system following nearly a decade and half bloody civil conflict that corrupted the minds of our young people and created a serious brain drain in the nation. The challenge before the educational system demands systematic reforms at all levels, including primary, junior and high schools, colleges and universities as well as tertiary institutions.
We need a revolution in this sector to save the future of the state. The President’s acknowledgement of the challenges should serve as a wakeup call to educational authorities, giving the huge youthful population in the country. Perhaps this where we should start addressing the debate on generational change: Experts have said Liberia is one of the few countries where older people are more educated then the youth. It speaks doom for the country unless a vigorously collective approach is taken immediately to reverse this picture.
We should begin to clean up the learning institutions by allowing only trained and qualified people to run our schools. Teachers entering the classrooms should be versed in the discipline they teach, while straight disciple must be applied in dealing with students. In the past 10 years or more, academic institutions in the country have produced unprepared youth in majority, who lack basic reading, writing, and computing skills. Yet they want to occupy public offices.
Liberia cannot advance into the technologically 21st century with poorly prepared generation, particularly when the country’s mining and energy sectors continue to attract attention from abroad. A danger lies ahead that if the young people are unprepared to take up jobs in these areas, aliens will reap the harvest of our natural resources.
It is time that we accept this challenge and act to redeem the educational system from quacks and common criminals with the aim of repositioning the country on the right trajectory for quality education and academic excellence. Education is the bedrock of any society. A nation of educated people is prepared to march ahead with development, economic prosperity and growth.