The Director of Policy Support and Consultancy Services Unit at the Kofi Annan International Peace Training Center in Teshia, Accra, Ghana, Dr. Thomas Jaye has told graduates of the state – run University of Liberia (UL) that adequate academic preparation leads to a hopeful and better future.
Delivering a keynote message at Liberia College’s Commencement Convocation, the first of seven college-based commencements forming part of the 98th Commencement Convocation of the University of Liberia on Monday, 4 December, Dr. Jaye said “Education is Insurance for you for the future.”
During the first commencement convocation on Monday, Liberia College graduated 606 students from various departments. Bulk of Dr Jaye’s message to the graduates is essentially a deep historical and self reflection of how bad governance, corruption, creed, elitism, and external interferences have undermined Africa’s transition from colonialism to democratic governance and development.
He provides a detailed analysis of the origin of the current socio-economic crisis which has plagued the African continent, adding, “Over the years Africa has produced mixed results with a few countries being stable while the rest have been caught in the barbed-wire of political turbulence, intra-state conflicts, electoral crisis, governance and leadership failure, economic stagnation, social decline and insecurity.”
He tells the graduates that “when we look back, we see that the socio-economic conditions of our people are worse off than at independence.” Dr. Jaye, who says he was born right on the eve of African independence, a time many thought was promising, laments that even in the 21st Century, the African continent is still grappling with the story of slavery.
“Our young people who are doing everything possible to cross the sea to migrate to a ‘greener pasture’ in Europe have been turned into slaves, in another African country,” he says, adding that “Some are sold at $200 per person; others went through terrible ordeals including organ theft and being burned alive; and many have died while trying to cross the sea.”
The keynote speaker blames bad governance and leadership failure in Sub – Saharan Africa as some of the reasons why African young and able-body men and women are risking their lives to cross into Europe.
Dr. Jaye says another source of the on-going socio-economic crisis has its roots in the policies of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. “These two Breton Woods institutions that were set up to promote development turned out to be barriers to development in Africa,” he says, adding that “The World Bank and IMF imposed strains of anti-development policies on African countries under the euphemism known as ‘structural adjustment programs (SAP).’”
Dr. Jaye says he provides the brief overview of the world in order for graduates to appreciate the enormity of the challenges confronting the world.
“Fortunately, as graduates of Lux In Tenebris and its oldest college, the Liberia College, you should be fully prepared as you walk out this graduation hall with your heads up high with faith in a bright future,” he urges.
For her part, UL President Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, who is presiding over her first commencement, says the entire graduation is unique for several reasons including the fact that the University of Liberia is graduating its largest class.
“Today is a unique day, unique in a variety of reasons,” Dr. Weeks emphasizes. She says its unique for her, the graduates and for the University in that this is the largest overall class that will be graduating from the University of Liberia in that there are over 3,400 students that will be graduating.
She says the 98th commencement is unique for her because it is her first as president of the University of Liberia. Dr. Weeks was inducted into office on September 13, 2017 as the second female president of the University of Liberia.
She also says the commencement is unique for Liberia College because 606 students are graduating from the college, recalling that the first graduate in 1866 from Liberia College was one person, and for 50 years, the largest number of people that graduated from Liberia College was 11.
“The first female that graduated from Liberia College graduated in 1905, when we had the largest class over that 50 year period. This year, out of 606 graduates 401 are females. And so for me that is fantastic!” Dr. Weeks says.
Speaking to the graduates, Dr Weeks said the University of Liberia is the flagship university in Liberia.“It is the best university in Liberia–don’t allow anybody tell you anything else. If you go anywhere in the world the largest number of people who have graduated from university in Liberia will be from the University of Liberia.
“And when we go elsewhere for advanced studies, we always excel. And so I want you to continue to keep in your mind, as you go your various ways that you’ve come from a great university; wear that banner with pride. Wear it proudly,” she says.
Also speaking was student Mohamed Sesay, the class salutatorian from the Department of Mass Communication, who spoke on the topic: “Determination and Perseverance in Pursuit of Academic Excellence, Bringing Your Focus to the Past, Present and Making a Chance for the Future.”
“We faced a lot of challenges at the beginning of the journey, and we will face challenges as we go into the future, but what will matter is how we apply the principles of life learned in the walls of this great university,” he told his fellow graduates.
The Dean of Liberia College Professor Sekou W. Konneh thanked the UL Administration for the tremendous support afforded the college over the years, saying, “I want to specifically thank Dr. Weeks for the many support you’ve given Liberia College over the years. I want to recognize the support of the entire University family, including Vice Presidents and my own boss, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr Williams Ezra Allen. To our graduates, I say well done you have fulfilled your historic mission—yes indeed you have!”–Press release