President Ellen Johnson – Sirleaf has told Cuttington University graduates that they will be challenged to find their place in contributing to a nation that faces the realities of too many years of dependency.
She said realities have come as the nation searches for courage to scale the walls of familiarity and vested interest that have prohibited structural change. Delivering a keynote address on Saturday, 5 August at the graduation of some 288 students from Cuttington University’s master’s program in Suakoko, Bong County, Mrs. Sirleaf cautioned the graduates that they will be entering an environment of a country burdened by the excesses of the past, but lifted by the hope and promise of the future.
She reminds the graduates that they will be joining the thousands of youths across Liberia who will be looking forward to the future, and facing the challenges of unemployment and choice in selecting their next leadership of the country that will respond to the people’s needs and demands.
“I’m sure that as you ponder the future, you will focus on the economy, on the potential for generating the growth to meet the needs of young population 60 per cent under the age of 35,” she urges.
Over the period of the nation’s history, Mrs. Sirleaf says “we have remained constrained, historically vulnerable to external factors due to a heavy dependence on primary products sold in international markets.”
These historical constraints, she says have continued to this day, and exacerbated by the social imperatives of carrying the cost of large public sector employment that [cross] out what is required of public sector investment.
Additionally, Mrs. Sirleaf tells the graduates that Liberia faces limitation in monetary policy imposed by a dual currency regime. While acknowledging that Liberia is a small country endowed with natural resources including plentiful rainfall and a sparse population, Mrs. Sirleaf cautions the graduates to question if truly “we” can meet the requirement of an expanding and rising nation as they ponder the future.
In a commendation to the class, Mrs. Sirleaf says they can be proud of having received quality education with strong basic values, adding that what the class has learned at Cuttington over the past years will be with them for the rest of their lives.
“You must be proud to be recipient of knowledge from one of the best institutions of our nation,” President Sirleaf tells the Cuttington graduates amidst hands applauds.
She emphasizes that the knowledge they have acquired, the value of integrity and hard work that were instilled in them will forever be with them. “It will be up to you to put that knowledge to the service of your country and humanity and for yourself,” says President Sirleaf.
She reminds the graduates that at the end of this year, the government, like the graduates, will mark a concluding chapter of its political life, though she says she considers it as only a prologue to a continuing agenda of a rising Liberia.
In closing, Mrs. Sirleaf commends the parents, guardians, instructors, professors and teachers, school leadership and all the educators that have made the invaluable contribution in getting the graduates prepared.