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Liberian students: Tomorrow's leaders or potential trouble makers?

Jacob Parley/Benjamin S. Taingay
the Writer: Jacob  N.B. Parley
 Associate Editor,  ews and Public Affairs
Liberia Broadcasting System
the Writer: Jacob N.B. Parley Associate Editor, ews and Public Affairs Liberia Broadcasting System

(elbcradio.com/June 22, 2015)-From time to time, calls have been made on Liberians, especially during the country’s post-war era, to strive towards making the country a better place to live.

Usually, a lot of positive factors come into play when people say Liberia should become a better place to live.

Such factors include making our country a place of sustainable peace, genuine reconciliation, development and unity, as well as appreciating each other’s religious and cultural values, eradicating corruption, and reducing unemployment and inequalities.

Strengthening the country’s weak justice and health sectors, building a society of productive and discipline citizens are among other factors.

Each time such increasing calls are sounded, either through heart-piercing sermons from the religious community, or heart-winning speeches from politicians who normally spend most of their time trying to win more political disciples to measure their level of popularity, education has always been stressed as the best means of realizing the concept of making Liberia a better place to live.

Yes, I do agree, the best place we can produce the nature of technocrats,   in whose hands we can place Liberia’s future, is at school.

I, therefore, want to again pledge my support to any initiative intended to achieve such important national goal- “Making Liberia a Better Place.”

We can achieve the goal  by using the class room to train a new generation of productive and disciplined people.

I recall in July 2014, when I deputized for a former boss of mine at the graduation of the Diana E. Davies High School in the Point Four Community, on the Bushrod Island, I challenged the students to stop passing through schools.

At the onset, most of the students and, perhaps, their parents and guardians, did not understand what I had said, even when I took another step to explain to them what I meant.

However, there was an immediate and unabated applause across the floor throughout my speech when nearly everyone had understood what I was driving through.

I am one of the many Liberians who strongly believe that most of our young people are not actually putting in the needed time to study their studies. 

Such argument is clearly manifested through the mass failure of students in public tests, particularly the WAEC and UL entrance exams.

I am also wondering whether Liberia will succeed in producing more nation-builders and future-leaders than potential trouble makers?
My wonder is contingent on the negative manner in which most students are conducting themselves nowadays.

Rudely Behavior and Violence

The major reason for this article is based on the drama that I witnessed during graduation ceremonies at the end of the 2012-2013 Academic year.

A complete open display of violence or rudely behavior by a group of fresh graduates, among many other related attitudes on the part of most Liberian students in the country clearly manifests the point that I am advancing.

One night, while returning from work, the commercial car that took me from the Red Light in the metropolitan of Paynesville, stopped at the Barnesville Junction.

It was a dark and rainy night and these fresh and well attired graduates, were apparently coming from an entertainment center, where they had been celebrating their academic achievements.

Nearly all of them, mostly females, were holding a large bottle of club beer. I am not saying that holding large bottles of beer is the reason for describing the scene as rudely and violent.

I described the scene in such manner because they were making comments  not indicative of people who had just marched out of high school and venturing into the world to be good-will ambassadors, or part of ongoing efforts to build a vibrant Liberian society.

At one point, some of them used profane language and even threatened: “We will deal with anyone who attempt standing in our way,” as they sang senseless songs. They aggressively tried to cross the road without realizing that others needed to cross, too.

An elderly woman, who almost ran into their group, became an immediate victim of their harsh vocabularies, perhaps intended to measure the level of their academic sophistication. 

“ What this  dam old ma (elderly woman) looking for in the street just crossing in front of people when  she supposed to be taking care of her grandchildren in the house?”

A passer-by, who tried to intervene, was threatened: “Papay (old man) you try it, you will feel pain. You able to spell your own name before standing in front of us?” But sensing the danger associated with trying to persuade an unwilling group of aggressive young high school graduates, the old man quietly walked away.

They chanted: “Goodbye to high school, no more too much studying. We are enjoying our life, Mannn...” I stood breathlessly on the side walk and began to wonder where we are going as a nation.

Increasing Calls for Generational Change 

Since the inception of the Unity Party-led Government, under the command of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, bells have continued ringing to make the concept of “Generational Change” a reality.

Let me set the records straight: I am not suggesting that it is the President who is pushing for the concept of Generational Change. It is rather the young people of Liberia who are pushing for the change.

I also think that our President is doing her best in making such concept a reality, considering the increasing number of young people being appointed in public positions since she took over the Liberian Presidency in 2006.

But again, as young people, we have to be very mindful of defeating our  own campaign, or crusade for the change that we  are so longing for, because some of us  are exhibiting questionable behavioral patterns in society.

Some of these misguided practices include the creeping virus of indiscipline among students, lack of seriousness on the part of students to study, involvement  in too much pleasure, and blatant disregard for religious and cultural values, intolerance,   disrespect to constituted authority, etc.

It might sound laughable for the very people considered as future leaders of Liberia to be embracing the culture of profanity, violence and lack of seriousness to acquire knowledge, among other vices.

As it is often said perfect practice produces perfect result, some of these students could grow up with this kind of culture to the detriment of building a vibrant Liberian nation in the years to come.

In my opinion, there is a need for an aggressive “mental revolution” in our country, in addition to other ongoing national efforts to ensure a sustainable, productive and peaceful society in post-conflict Liberia.

For instance, reinforcing family values and societal norms, and increased provision of quality education, if Liberia must succeed in becoming a nation of great potentials and unending opportunities for its citizenry.

I call on our beloved fresh and animated high school graduates to desist from rudeness, because such unwholesome behavior dose not benefit society, but helps to deepen our national problems. This is my fervent plead to Liberia’s tomorrow leaders.


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