It is often said that the future of any country depends on its most vital resource-its children. And that it takes investing in their education and potentials to yield the highest economic returns to a country.
Unfortunately, Liberia seems to be heading in the opposite direction. There is an increasing army of unemployed youth most of whom are half educated and unskilled. They are ready at anytime to jump on the streets in protests that could endanger the security of the state.
Don’t forget that this is a society deeply rooted in corruption, nepotism and favoritism. The inequality gap seems to have widened so much so that the wealth of the nation circulates among a privileged few. A privilege few, who still sees Liberia as an unsafe environment. They work here, but their entire families are abroad and therefore, their loyalty to the Motherland remains questionable.
In fact, talks of investing in the country’s human resource capacity is fast becoming a political rhetoric. Paradoxically, we continue to see focus at investing in the human resource capacities of our neighbors, bringing them in as experts, earning thousands of United States Dollars that could pay hundreds of unemployed Liberians per month.
Instead of building strong institutions that would promote continuity, the government chooses to promote a system that undermines such efforts. There is now no difference between a Civil Servant and a political appointee – each can be fired as long as there is a change at the head. And when a newly appointed minister comes, he or she brings in his or her own cronies, most of whom do not understand the system, while either getting rid of the experienced ones in the ministry or agency or reassigning them in libraries.
Don’t get me wrong; not that many of the cronies of these ministers, who hang around their offices as consultants and or advisors are not qualified, but they just don’t understand the system in which they are introduced, thus negatively imparting their performances and slowing down growth. The continuous shortfall in the revenue generation is an example. When projections repeatedly failed to match actual revenue intake, this is a serious problem that could lead the country to stagnation.
But what is even more troubling in all of these is the government’s failure to move from just policies to implementations. The promise of providing jobs, vocational training and all of that for its army of unemployed youths is becoming a failure.
The government for example, will have you believe that it has included in all the Mineral Development Agreements with major concession companies here that certain percentage of Liberians should be employed. Agreed, but what is it doing to prepare the citizens to take up these positions?
We still see Ghanaians and other national taking up those positions, while our youths load cars or sit at drinking centers or tea shops to discuss politics. Of most recent, there have been calls for institutions of higher learning here to introduce courses that would align with the type of investments taking place, especially in the mining, energy and petroleum sectors.
For example, there have been calls for the introduction of Exploration, Hydrogeology, Engineering, Geology, Petroleum geology and Environmental geology as new fields of studies that would prepare Liberians to take up employments at these sectors.
While these calls are being made and students are encouraged to take up courses in the sciences., the University of Liberia has announced that it will no longer offer degrees in English, Mathematics and Physics. Not that it does not have the money to pay but just can’t attract qualified lecturers to run degree programs in these areas.
Vocation jobs and placement opportunities that would enhance student’s practical knowledge are lacking. Instead, they are being use as stooges and messengers to propagate hit political messages against individuals in society.
Now, with this prevailing situation, one wonders, whether our institutions would ever be able to incorporate such new fields of studies into their curriculums. Don’t forget that Liberia can only boast of just few engineers for now.
To be continued.