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Educational Opportunities and Facilities

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The challenge for the 2012 Government will be to prioritize the fundamental principles in the governance of the Republic and to allow them to serve as guidelines in the formulation of legislative, executive and administrative directives, policy making and their execution.

Educational Opportunities and Facilities: A Challenge for the 2012 Government

“The Republic shall, because of the vital role assigned to the individual citizen under this Constitution for the social, economic and political well-being of Liberia, provide equal access to educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens to the extent of available resources…”

(Article: 6: 1986 Constitution-RL)

There could have been no better time than now in the history of the Second Republic of Liberia that “education” is first priority for the government of the Republic of Liberia.

Certainly, the present educational opportunities and facilities do not suggest that education is near the top list of priorities for the present government. Right here in Monrovia, (the seat of the government), one of the oldest elementary schools of the government, students are sitting two in a chair in each of 4th, 5th and 6th grade classes. Just imagine what conditions are like in other places far away from the seat of the government.

We are told that some students sit on stone/blocks, and in other places, students sit on bear floor in the class. How can our citizens “attain the education and skills that investors will need” when the Republic (the government of the day) does not value the “vital role assigned to the individual citizen” under the constitution?

Some people say it is ignorance. Others say it is just upright disregard for the human value of the governed. I think I agree with those who say “ignorance”. Either those who governing are ignorant of the provisions and principles of the constitution, or they are convinced that the governed are so ignorant of the provisions and principles of the constitution to demand for constitutional rights; therefore, “they” make allotments in the national budget for educational opportunities and facilities and then redirect same to some other personal use.

Take a look at those photos of students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classes at a government elementary school right in the heart of Monrovia.

The Republic (the government of the day) is to “provide equal access to educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens”. Could anyone of the governors have their children go through such facility for learning? What is “equal access”? How can the government of the day juxtapose the reserves of the Central Bank at “US$293 Million” to these photos?

What the Republic (the government of the day) has not understood is, providing equal access to educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens is for the social, economic and political well-being of Liberia.

The Social Well-Being of Liberia

The Republic (the government of the day) providing equal access to educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens from the “available resources” will ensure the social well being of Liberia. There is a vital role assigned to each citizen. For each citizen to understand his vital role and to be able to appreciate the vital role of his/her fellow citizens, equal access to educational opportunities and facilities is fundamental principle for the social well-being of the Republic.

“Societies’ organizations” will be respected and supported. Citizen will be friendlier toward each other. The citizens will be sociable and they will peacefully live in communities. Development infrastructures will be appreciated by each citizen.

The well-being of Liberia is a public policy concern. Therefore, government activities and commitments are crucial to the meaning of public policy. Education is a very major area of historical concern to governments over the ages (all over the world) because, what comes out of government is as important as what goes in.

Educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens to the extent of available resources are affected by public policies; that is, the combination of basic decisions, commitments and actions made by those who hold or affect government positions of authority. The social well being of Liberia will result from interactions among those who demand change, those who make the decisions, and those who are affected by the policy in question.

The meaning and power of public policy can better be understood by the linkage between policy makers and policy receivers. In a very broad and direct sense, society benefits or suffers because of government activities. The definition of solutions to prevailing problems through government is as important in defining prevailing values. Education is not a prevailing value for the Republic (the government of the day); and as such, it much be the challenge for the “2012 Government”.

The Economic Well-Being of Liberia

Economic problems are widely associated with some sense of security. The importance of redistribution imposes upon government the task of developing policies and services to match public needs. What is the appropriate extend of government involvement in the economy? How is income redistribution through taxation affecting the lives of every Liberian?

Income distribution issue must be given urgent attention, because the gap between the “have” and “have not” are leading to controversial alarming. What should government do to alter such disposition? To be able to resource our economic issues, let us resource our social issues.

Philosophically, technology represents a challenge in any society. Except Liberia produces the technical minds required to ensure the technical changes, notably, weak family structure, psychological alienation and uncertain economic condition, which are present formidable problem for our political system, we are going no where.

Giving our long history of underdevelopment, except we can have technological evolution, US$293 million reserves are meaningless. For technology to be beneficial to Liberia and Liberians, the challenge will be to develop and apply many different kinds of knowledge – ethical, philosophical, sociological, political and economic “specialist”, so that, we can do a better job of defining our real needs and creating the technologies that serve them.

Certainly the photos, reflecting the general atmosphere in our public school system all over the country are not gearing toward the revolution required.

Recognizing problems is one part of policy making process, (and this government is on record identifying problems), deciding how to pay the price to solve them is another (which this government has to learn). For example: the luxuries automobiles and the unlimited gasoline consumption by policy makers are in no way the price to solve the problem of educational opportunities and facilities we are faced with in the Republic of Liberia.

The Political Well-Being of Liberia

What are the political values of the individual actors in government? What are the political values of our society? What are the political values of the government as an institution?

A very large portion of any president’s leadership stems from his/her ability to establish priorities and define policy commitments. Providing equal access to educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens to the extent of available resources for the political well-being of Liberia is at the bottom list of priorities as indicated by the commitments of this government to the fundamental principles contained in Chapter II of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.

What highlights the role and strategists in the development of educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens for the Republic (the government of the day)? The “checks and balances” organization of government requires the various branches to act in complementary fashion. But the Executive Branch of government, as a single element of government, frames and dominates the policy process. (The president put her neck on the “Chopping-Block” for her ministers that were implicated by audit reports without counter-checking the facts.)

Implementation is activity that turns official’s policy commitment into reality. The conditions in our schools are in no way reflecting the turning of official’s policy commitments into reality. Thomas Dye says public policy activities “are heavily influenced by the nature of the environment”.

“Illiteracy”, the natural of our environment, provides the conditions where the actions of public policy makers do not attract considerable public attention to provide widespread demand for change.

Through the mass education of the Liberian people to be able to eliminate illiteracy is a constitutional duty of the free government instituted by the authority of the people of Liberia, yet each and all the governments of the Second Republic have chosen to “play-low” on the “General Principles of National policy”. Why? Basically, it is to avert demand for changes”?

What if I have in my possession five hundred United States dollars ($ 500.00) for you but you have no knowledge of me having this money for you, will you ask and demand for it? And if I give you fifty ($ 50.00) dollars, will you not appreciate and thank me?

But, what if you have knowledge that I have five hundred dollars for you, you will ask for it at first sight. If I give you fifty dollars out of it, you will refuse it and demand for your five hundred dollars. Now compare your standard of living with fifty dollars, unlike five hundred dollars. (Ignorant/Informed)  When we are informed, we will demand and this means a better livelihood under just and humane conditions. We make no demands when we are kept ignorant.

Article 10 of the 1986 Constitution says:  “The Republic” (the government of the day) “shall ensure the publication and dissemination of this Constitution throughout the Republic and the teaching of its principles and provision in all institution of learning in Liberia.”

Since 1986, when the Constitution became the supreme and fundamental law of Liberia, which government has ensured the publication and dissemination of the constitution and the teaching of its principles and provision in all institutions of learning in Liberia?

No government has been able to do so. Why? Do you not know if the principles and provisions of the Constitution are taught in all intuitions of learning, the information will attract considerable public attention and widespread demand for changes in developments or actions of public policy makers? Do you remember what Thomas Dye said? The nature of the environment has a very significant influence on public policy activities.

The challenge for the 2012 Government will be to prioritize the fundamental principles in the governance of the Republic and to allow them to serve as guidelines in the formulation of legislative, executive and administrative directives, policy making and their execution.

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