As part of the commemoration of Liberia’s 168th Flag Day anniversary, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has launched the National Curriculum on Citizenship Education.
An Executive Mansion release quotes President Sirleaf ad, speaking during the commemoration of the 168th Flag Day anniversary at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion under the theme: “The Flag, Our Identity,” on Monday, August 24, stressing that the Curriculum on Citizenship Education is an indispensable tool for enhancing citizens’ education.
The Curriculum on Citizenship Education appreciates but substantially departs from previous initiatives which have focused on helping students understand the branches of government with emphasis typically focused on the president. This initiative provides the framework for a broader learning experience in the art of citizenship beginning with an understanding of our identities, families, environments and the communities within which we live and the organization and functioning of government. It also helps students understand and appreciate the complex patterns of interaction, rights, obligations and duties of citizenship. Organized with incremental levels of complexities, the content will be taught from Grades 1 through Grade 12.
As this is the completion of the first phase, President Sirleaf thanked the Governance Commission and the Ministries of Education and Finance and Development Planning for working together towards its completion and called on them to do what they can to secure the required resources to begin the textbook writing project so that in a year’s time, the teaching of citizen’s education can be strengthened as they commence introducing the new textbooks in all schools.
“I hope that by the time of the 2017-2018 school year, Citizenship Education would form an integral part of the curriculum of every school in our country,” she indicated. Touching on the choice of celebrating our ‘Community’, President Sirleaf reflected on the ability of our communities that took ownership and led the process as Liberia battled the Ebola virus disease. “The ability of our Communities to take ownership and lead the process as we battled an unknown enemy – truly manifests an engrained sense of identity, patriotism and commitment to service,” she said, adding, “It is a nationalistic service to people and country that replaces tears with hope and a restored self-esteem population.”
She stressed that as a people, we have something to celebrate owing to our unique identity, which must be divorced of politics and pettiness. “It is that identity that positions us to recognize that ‘war-war’ can be replaced by ‘joy-joy’,” she furthered.
President Sirleaf indicated that it is our solemn appreciation that “one nation indivisible with liberty and justice for all” is not only a manifestation but an inherent embodiment of our identity. That is all the reason why the Flag serves as a constant reminder of a recognition and testimony of who we are as a people and as a nation.
Delivering the Keynote Address at the program earlier, the President of the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU), Dr. Joseph Isaac, highlighted “Patriotism” in the Liberian context. He defined patriotism as the expression of emotions; love and commitment to one’s country and ideas that the country represents; strong belief in nationalism and devotion to the national interest. “Patriotism is rooted in respect for one’s nation,” he said; but warned that it must rely on visionary people.
Dr. Issac, the fourth President of the AMEU, said in order to have patriotism, he named four basic characteristics of emotions: one must have special affection for a country; sense of personal identity for that country; special concern for the well-being of that country; and the willingness to sacrifice for and promote that country. “Patriotism also means protecting your national heritage,” he said, citing examples of protecting your ancestors’ legacy, remembering their contributions and honoring their works, as well as realizing their dreams.
The AME University President reiterated that in terms of knowing and respecting the Liberian heritage, it’s important to honor the events, activities and people that created the Liberian flag. He catalogued and remembered the works of the seven designers of the Liberian flag which he said symbolizes patriotism – love and commitment to country.
“We should remember and preserve the date of August 24, 1915, when President Daniel Edward Howard signed into law the Act for August 24, of each year to be celebrated as Flag Day,” he reminded the Liberians.
He said today, because of the bravery and commitment of the seven women who believed in patriotism, the Liberian flag is the most recognized symbol of freedom and liberty for Liberia around the world. “The flag represents the value of this nation which we all should respect and hold sacred,” he urged.
For those who have been advocating for a change of the national symbols including the Liberian flag, Dr. Isaac reminded them that changing a national symbol is in itself a sign of disrespect to the meaning of that symbol. “Respecting the Liberian flag is not an act of an appeal of the design of the flag or the look and feel of the symbol, the flag is a national emblem generally symbolizing the ever changing history of the people of Liberia,” he said, adding that the flag affects all of us in so many ways.
One way, he noted, it teaches us to stand up, hold our heads up high and be proud to be a Liberian; to be compassionate; be strong, brave and protect the values of Liberia; and to be true patriots with love and honor for Liberia.
Meanwhile, prior to the indoor program, 20 high schools in and around Monrovia participated in the usual drill which is a major highlight of the day’s activities that includes President Sirleaf, who is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, and the Ministers of Education and Defense receiving the I-right salute from students.
This year’s 1st place winner and Best I-Right was G. W. Gibson High School; 2nd place and Best Drilled, Cathedral High School; and 3rd place and Best Dressed, St. Theresa’s Convent. They each received a presidential award of US$600, US$400 and US$200, respectively. Each school also got US$150 and a medal for their participation. The Muslim Congress High School was selected as the Most Discipline School.
Education Minister, Mr. Werner, also announced that each school could get US$1,000 if they designed and completed a school project on or before September 7, 2015. When the announcement was made, the whole Centennial Pavilion went wild in celebration, but when Minister Werner added the caveat, there was much murmuring in the hall. -Press Release