Education Helps People Discover Their Full Potential, President Sirleaf Tells Students at Programs Marking Liberia’s 165th Flag Day Celebration
(MONROVIA, LIBERIA – Friday, August 24, 2012): President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has told Liberian students that education will help them to develop their full potential. “Learning, training, hard work and perseverance are the elements that must be fulfilled for one to be considered educated,” the Liberian President told the hundreds of students at programs marking the 165th Flag Day celebration.
Reflecting on the theme “The Importance of Education,” the Liberian President told jubilant students that education will enable them to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, even politicians. She added, “The people you see holding high positions – all of them on the podium, are doing so because they worked for it. They didn’t get there because they knew somebody; they got there by making the most of their time in school, getting an education, learning, building the experience.” She stressed that her government has placed much attention to education because it is the bedrock for the survival of the nation.
According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf, speaking at the Monrovia City Hall, told the gathering that parents, guardians and all caregivers have an obligation to ensure the education of their children and young relatives.
She reminded the students that the issue of education is not just a personal matter to an individual, but concerns their families, communities, the State and the world at large. “This is the reason why my government will not just make educational facilities and opportunities available, but will make it affordable as well,” President Sirleaf told the attentive audience.
The Liberian leader said that the Government has pushed the opening of schools to September 10, 2012, to allow the Ministry of Education and school authorities to sort out the tuition issue amidst the hike in tuition in many private schools. She said an understanding has already been reached with some schools to reduce the tuition and other fees charged.
President Sirleaf finally urged the students to stay away from video clubs. “Go to hatai shops only after school. Study! Do your research! Stay focused,” she appealed, noting further: “I’m where I am today because my parents understood the importance of education,” and she called on all parents to place the same emphasis on education.
Delivering the Flag Day Oration earlier, former Education Minister, Dr. Evelyn Kandakai, offered a clearer understanding of the Liberian flag, describing it as a historic symbol that all Liberians must honor and pay homage to. She praised the group of women who developed and designed the national ensign, namely, Susannah Lewis (Chairman), Rachael Johnson, Mary Hunter, Sarah Draper, Colonette Teage, Matilda Newport, and Mrs. J. B. Russwrum.
She urged Liberians to carefully examine the words of the National Anthem, the Lone Star Forever, and the Pledge of Allegiance, and said, “We will become more nationalistic and patriotic if we apply the meaning of each.” Dr. Kandakai frowned on what she called “lip-service” to education, which, she said, has characterized the sector for a long time.
Dr. Kandakai, now Vice President for Academic Affairs of the United Methodist University, told the students that President Sirleaf took the first action against lip-service to education in 2005 when, as a presidential candidate, she established the Liberia Education Trust (LET), which seeks to educate more women and girls.
“Since coming to power,” Dr. Kandakai continued, “President Sirleaf renewed many governmental actions and interventions to improve the education sector,” and had also called for increased actions and interventions to capacitate more women in all spheres of the country’s existence, arguing that women deserve much more than what they have now.
The Orator urged Liberians to honor the flag by keeping and sustaining the peace and security of the country, and adopting a National Vision for development. She declared, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Prior to the Indoor Program, 25 high schools participated in the Flag Day march-past, where President Sirleaf received the salute in front of the Centennial Memorial Pavilion. Three schools were selected as first, second and third place winners, respectively. B. W. Harris High School took first place, followed by G.W. Gibson in second place, and Gray D. Allison High School in third place. The judges looked at certain criteria, including dress code, alignment, correct salute, command voice, and discipline.
Mr. Jerolinmek Matthew Piah