Liberian Youth On Boakai’s Mind -Avows Sustainable Support to ‘Precious Jewels’

MONROVIA: Development theorists posit that the quickest way any country can muddle its future is to turn a blind eye to the welfare of its youth. And with Liberia’s youth future teetering on the brink of annihilation due to rampancy of drugs abuse, a pandemic claiming a whole generation of people, much is left to desire. But the current leader of the country, President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, doesn’t seem oblivious and carefree of the raging debacle. Time without numbers, he has promised to create an amiable space for the troubled young people of Liberia as a way of guaranteeing a solid future for the backward nation. Once again, as the Chief Executive took the national podium, talking to a group of maritime graduates yesterday, he reaccentuated his assurance for the empowerment the country’s “precious jewels”. The Analyst reports.

Yet again the President of Liberia, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, has reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to the empowerment and development of the young people of Liberia—a commitment which he said he holds dear to his heart and is central to his administration’s development paradigm.

The Liberian leaders believes providing career opportunities for the young people does not only empower them but also guarantees the continued existence and progress of our country.

He made the statements yesterday at the third commencement exercise of Liberia Maritime Training Institute which graduated another batch of students following a successful end of training.

He said the Liberia Maritime Training Institute project, which engendered the graduation ceremony yesterday, is one of the keys to the education pillar of his administration’s flagship program, ARREST Agenda.

“As we strive to educate and empower the youth of our country, we must pay special attention to specialized and technical education,” he said. “This type of training equips them with marketable skills and expertise that are valuable for the Liberian economy and the global job market.”

President Boakai told the audience that in recent times, Liberia has made several notable strides in the global maritime space, stressing that the election of Liberia as a Category A Member of the Council of the International Maritime Organization and the consistently excellent performance of the Liberian Ship Registry are worth noting.

He said further: “On the domestic front, Liberia has four seaports, a 580 km coastline, a rich and expanding fisheries sector, a healthy marine ecosystem and marine resources and a huge dependence on seaborne transport are all realities. These examples highlight the importance of the maritime sector in our country’s development and Liberia’s comparative advantage in this field.

“We need to take more concrete steps to maximize the potential of the maritime sector in our country. This institute is a crucial tool in our efforts to tap into these opportunities. The institute must continue to lead the way in preparing the next generation of Liberian seafarers and other maritime professionals. There is a growing need for the Liberia Maritime Institute to expand its facilities in the upcoming years. This expansion is necessary to accommodate more students and offer a wider range of courses.”

President Boakai called on administrators of the Maritime Institute to begin to offer certificates of competence and other officer courses for the country’s cadets who are currently onboard vessels and those to be joining soon.

But to be able to accomplish that, he maintained, there is an urgent need to build additional dormitory facilities, an auditorium, and lecture halls as well as to increase the specialized training facilities.

“We need to approach this with strategic efficiency,” he said. ““In the next decades, we must have Liberian captains and chief engineers, something befitting of our status as a leader in the global maritime space. I ask the Board to review the expansion and growth plan, take due notice, and act accordingly.”

The President lauded the strides being made at the institute–something he attributed to the reorganization and change in management, stating that he was informed that all of the previous graduates of this School are currently working both at sea and with shore-based organizations including the National Port Authority, APM Terminals, Liberia Electricity Corporation, etc. and that some of the cadets, as he was also told  are assigned on board with shipping companies such as Orion, Unisea, Atlantic Lloyd, d’Amico, etc.

“This is indeed a milestone for which I say a big congratulations to the School and the Liberia Maritime Authority. At the same time, we must continue to secure placements for all our cadets, which is the ultimate goal of this initiative,” he asserted.

“To our dear parents, I say thank you for your moral and financial support to these young people. As a parent myself and as one who has mentored many young people, I know of the challenges and sacrifices required to bring children this far. I am also aware that investing in children’s education is the surest and safest way of making them productive and giving them a good future.”

The graduates, President Boakai said: “I say congratulations! I urge you not to take yourselves just as cadets; you are graduates who are going to be amongst those shining stars that help the name of Liberia illuminate so brightly in the comity of nations.”

He said by their pursuing studies at this prestigious Institution, they were genuinely placing themselves on an enviable track of human resource development.

“The pride is not just for your family but, even further, for your country and people who will derive the dividends of the feat of the new skill set you have achieved here today,” he continued. “I should thus challenge you to go out there and proudly raise the flag of Liberia to nobler heights.”

The President further admonished the graduates not to overlook the fact that they will experience good times, but they should also prepare for challenges ahead, adding, “your best strategy is to prepare yourself and stay strong, knowing that you carry the hopes and aspirations of your family, community, and your country”.

Continued, the President also told the graduates: “In the challenging times you may face, it’s important to find a purpose for your life. Having a purpose is crucial in pursuing a mission. It’s the reason you exist at this particular time in history. Your very existence is intertwined with the things you are meant to accomplish. Whatever career path you choose, remember that the struggles you encounter are meant to shape you for your purpose.

“I urge you to stand strong and resilient as you confront these challenges. Take courage in knowing that you are contributing to advancing your country. It is essential to take ownership of your country’s direction and recognize that a country develops no higher than its people. Keep in mind that success doesn’t come easily.”

He also said: “You can’t achieve great things without putting in the effort. Leaving behind the comfort of your home, the warmth of your social connections, and the support and joy of your family to live a disciplined life for two years in pursuit of this achievement is a clear demonstration of your determination, willpower, and character. As you venture into the world, always aim to cultivate a strong character and be a positive representative of your community. Remember, intelligence and knowledge, without good character, can be harmful. Strive to reflect the values of the education and guidance you have received here.”

The President used the occasion to acknowledge the Government’s appreciation to all of its partners, including LISCR, for their contribution to the transformation of LMTI and recognized the enrolling a group of 24 cadets for a two-year program to obtain the Associate degree in Marine Engineering.

“The upgrading from a mere General-Purpose Rating Program to an Associate Degree level course offering institution certainly deserves our commendation.  I am told this Associate Degree course is offered in accordance with the IMO Standard for Training, Certification, and Watch-keeping (STCW) A-III/1 for the function of Marine Engineering, Electrical, Electronic, and Control Engineering and Repair at the Operational level (Class 3).

“With our collective and continued support, Liberia is starting its first Certificate of Competence (Class 3) courses in June of this year. After a year of sea time, these same seafarers sitting the course will meet the qualification for Class 2 & 1, at the Level of Chief Engineers onboard international vessels. I see this as a valuable course we are embarked upon.

“In our continuous effort to build a strong maritime nation and maintain our position as a leading flag state, we aim to increase the number of seafarers we send aboard vessels. Furthermore, we are in the process of developing a program to certify seafarers for all professional roles aboard vessels navigating the sea. Undoubtedly, this initiative will lead to increased employment, boost the country’s GDP, and contribute to overall economic growth. Additionally, it will ensure Liberia’s prominent presence in the global maritime industry.”

CG Lighe: “Graduates Equipped”

Meanwhile, the Commissioner General of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LIMA), Neto Zarzar Lighe, said he was excited that the students whom he said exhibited strong spirit and enthusiasm to learn were successfully graduating from their studies and wished them well in their future endeavor, adding “you are now equipped with the necessary skills to embark on your future endeavor”.

He said efforts will be made to provide the necessary learning environment at the institute so that education obtained at LMTI could be compared to the standards being provided at other institutions such as the Regional Maritime University in Ghana, the World Maritime University in Europe.

The Maritime boss noted that there was an urgent need to provide more infrastructural development and improve the facilities at LMTI to enhance their capacity.

Commissioner Lighe also said the current enrollment at the institute does not reflect what the school should be offering and that in line with the ARREST agenda of the current dispensation, more support will be given to LMTI to fulfill the dreams of young Liberians. He said he was proud of the products from LMTI, some of whom have been able to secure international jobs on vessels abroad.

He spoke about the enviable place of Liberia’s maritime sector  in the world saying for more than half of a century, more ships have been flying the Liberian flags, thus according to the country the respect and international recognition from other countries of the world.

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