This article was sponsored by the Kennedy Hope Foundation
BOPOLU, Gbarpolu – The Kennedy Hope Foundation has provided over 150 students in Gbarpolu with scholarships.
The foundation was recognized at a Saturday, November 30 program, where Lutheran clergyman Rev. J. Lewis N. Mckay praised the foundation for its initiatives in education, especially in the Gbarpolu area.
A lecturer at the University of Liberia, Mckay told graduates and honorees of various learning institutions in Bopolu that education is the bedrock of any country’s development, and must be considered the cornerstone for meaningful progress.
“That is why the Kennedy Hope Foundation has chosen to use education as a tool to develop the young people latent possibilities in the county,” he said.
“The intervention by the Kennedy Hope Foundation could not have come at any better time than this when Liberia is experiencing serious financial challenges and gradually recovering from a self-inflicted messy education system consequential to a human-eat-human senseless civil crisis that has not only culminated in decades of meteoric amassment of wealth but also in desertification of the onetime green national socio-economic ambiance.”
In 2013, former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf branded the country’s education system “a total mess” which required a complete overhaul, just days after some 25,000 high school students failed to pass the state university’s entrance exams.
“The students’ failure did not necessarily result from a bad university, but rather from the high schools that should have prepared them,” Sirleaf said.
Primary and secondary schools, like many other institutions in the country, collapsed as a result of 14 years of intermittent civil war which killed an estimated 250,000 people.
Currently, the country has only two state-run universities, the University of Liberia in Monrovia, and the William V.S. Tubman University, in Harper, Maryland County.
The University of Liberia was established in 1862 as a liberal arts institute known as the Liberia College, and is among the oldest institutions of higher learning in West Africa.
Mckay, who is himself a lecturer at the University of Liberia, said there are students at the university who can “hardly read or write,” adding that the former president was correct to describe the country’s education system as a “total mess.”
The ceremony was well attended by family, friends, and well-wishers of both the scholarship recipients and the foundation; and offered proof that the Kennedy Hope Foundation was not simply vested in aspiration, but more importantly in taking concrete actions to develop the human capacity of the people of Gbarpolu, and indeed Liberia.
“I contend that without proper education, our individual as well as collective economic, intellectual, social, and even moral endeavors will yield no productive anticipated result,” Mckay further remarked. “I believe that quality education reflects the quality of intellectual, cultural, economic, social and even the moral lifestyle of any nation including Liberia.”
Speaking further on the significance of education, Mckay said bridges are important because they connect two or more geographical ends, enhances trade, social, cultural political interactions, and expose individuals to valuable exchanges that lead to golden opportunities of mutual benefits through the flow of resources.
This, according to him, is exactly what education means. For example, he said like a physical bridge, education as an enabler that enables someone to properly be educated in order to navigate the turbulent social, economic, political, cultural, and traditional seas and oceans to the resistance of many golden, valuable and worthy opportunities that will bring health and longevity of life and improve the quality of a people’s life.
It is now universally accepted that by investment in human capital development, any nation and society can overcome the challenges of poverty and underdevelopment. Underinvestment in human capacity development, Mckay reminded his audience, is not only a threat to human life but is also a disregard of a divine mandate to develop the human person.
Mckay used the occasion of his speech to finally caution parents that despite current economic hardship in Liberia, they must not relent in educating their children.
Students from various learning institutions in Gbarpolu paraded the principal streets to grace the occasion.
The celebrations climaxed with a football match between Saint Monica and Bopolu Bible Mission School at the county’s stadium.
This article was sponsored by the Kennedy Hope Foundation. CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Lewis McKay as Lewis McGill.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah