Government’s flagship development program, the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD), is still in its puberty, though its impact has begun to spread here and yonder. Meanwhile, every member of the Government has been spreading the good news of the program, rallying their ethnic, regional and political bases across the country. Invited to deliver the graduation convocation of the Nimba County Community College, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Elias Shoniyin, used the occasion to provide useful counsels on post-college challenges but not without exciting their aspirations and hopes as to what goodies the PAPD owes the development of the country, including the graduates’ welfare. See below full text of Statement delivered by B. Elias Shoniyin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia, on the Occasion of the 4th Graduation Convocation of the Nimba County Community college Sanniquellie, Nimba County on January 12, 2018:
Acting Chair Duo and Members of the Nimba Community College Board;
Mr. Chairman and embers of the Nimba County Legislative Caucus;
Mr. Minister of Agriculture
Madam Founding President
Vice President, Faculty and Staff;
Members of the Graduating Class;
Parents, Families and friends
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am elated for the opportunity to share my thoughts at this 4th graduation convocation of the Nimba Community College and to celebrate the success of these graduates. I thank you President Wonkeryor, the Council, Faculty and the graduating class, for the kind invitation.
Before going further, I extol the families and sponsors of these graduates, for the support during the period of their studies, as I also give special recognition to the faculty and all others who have been instrumental in making this day possible.
I bring warmest greetings and congratulations to the graduating class, whose achievement and success have brought us all together here today; as I speak on the theme: “How the CDC Government is Rebuilding the Liberian Educational System”. Notwithstanding this theme, I seek permission to stimulate the consciousness of the graduates for pursuing a realistic but optimist future.
This event we celebrate today, marks a milestone and a turning point in the lives of you young men and women who we honor here today. It is a milestone because you have taken a major step in reaching your life goal, the essence of your aspirations as you ascend in the journey of life. Today marks a turning point for many of you, not because degrees are being conferred on you, but that you are headed out there into the real world; it is a turning point because you must now step forward to begin a new journey that offers much promise from which there must be no return to your past life; the sky can no longer be your limit. Today, you turn off one road in your lives onto another.
The difference today, is that for some of you, this is the end of your official scholastic journey, while for others; the journey goes on to another level, a full Bachelor of Arts degree or beyond. But I urge you to not be afraid to explore further education, for therein lie the adventure that will guarantee the expansion of your intellects and success. This is all within your grasps and you must pursue it with reckless ambition.
The National vision bearer, H.E. President George Weah recognizes that education is a catalyst for driving sustainable socio-economic development which would lead Liberia into a prosperous future. We know that to maintain the peace, we must make education a paramount commitment of Government. That is why Pillar I of the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development – promises power to the people. A new dawn was heralded for the development of Liberia when this historic document was launched in Nimba County on October 27, last year.
Noting the urgency of investing in the people, particularly the youth, as promised in the Pro-poor Agenda, President George Manneh Weah demonstrated his Government’s unrelenting dedication when he declared tuition free for all public universities and colleges in Liberia on October 24, 2018, ahead of the launched of the Pro-poor Agenda.
This Administration recognizes that the empowerment of our people is essential in a country where 60 percent of the population is under the age of 35 – many of whom are war-affected youths, some of whom have now turned adults, who did not have the opportunity of an education or skill. They remain the most vulnerable elements of our society; however, the Pro-poor Agenda will give them a chance to live a normal life, to seek an education, to engage in small enterprises, to regain their respect and dignity.
The Government of Liberia and the people of this great county have given you an undeniable platform, the Nimba Community College, where you have engrossed ourselves in the doctrine of academia for the last two years. You have acquired skills that have given you the potential to build successful lives. You have together concluded this difficult journey, and now prepared to enter society with Associate degrees. The challenge now is what you have planned to do with these skills, and how you intend to apply them? The answers and subsequent actions would determine how far you go.
This new journey today has set you on the path of great possibilities to becoming leaders in our respective fields, which can only be achieved by continued inquiry. By conferring of degrees on you today, a sacred heritage is being handed down to you with great expectations. The reputation of this College will be defined by your actions and intellectual discharge as you engage in our communities and the larger society.
You must recognise that you leave this College today during a very difficult and rapidly changing time. Our country is being challenged with economic infliction not of Government’s actions or inactions, but by natural circumstances. Our two major exports – iron ore and rubber are struggling to stabilize since been hit by global price decline in 2014; the drawdown of UNMIL, leaving hundreds of former Liberian employees jobless, and turning off millions of dollars in economic infusion from the foreign military and civilian staff of UNMIL.
The problems we confront today as you enter the real world are not huge but not insurmountable, as we are blessed with a responsible Government which is on record of promptly responding to the calls of its people. You now have the opportunity, when we leave here today, to join ranks with those who build, those who construct and those whose creativity have given hope for a better Liberia.
In the worlds of T.S. Eliot; I quote: “it is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our own time — for we are bound by it — but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time”. Unquote: For we can leverage the freedom of thinking, given us by education.
To succeed in this increasingly competitive world, we need to continuously nurture the ability to think strategically, and sustain the capacity to deliver effectively. I encourage you graduates to have an open mind to the many possibilities that await you. To tap into those possibilities, you must cultivate a positive attitude.
(The Story is told of an enthusiastically new graduate, who, moment after his graduation…….)
The lesson learned from this story is found in the words of Tom Bodett; I quote: “The difference between school and life is, in school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. But in life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson”.
Our Graduates; your time at this College did not give you the answers to the tests of life, but it gives you the discipline and courage to push the boundaries of your thinking to find answers to the tests of life. The Nimba Community College has played its part, by moulding women and men on whose talents the Liberian societies will continue to thrive; now it is your turn to make us all proud of your future success.
We can look back and emulate the examples of great Liberians, particularly, of Nimba origin, whose diligence and dedication impacted our society in such powerful ways that their imprints remain engraved on our hearts forever. Should you slumber in the duty bestowed upon you today, you not only fail the people of today, but also generation after us and those of yesterday who dedicated their lives and service to society. Now you take up the stage today, and should you fail, you would be failing great sons of this County, such as Jackson Fiah Doe, David Dwayen, Moses Duopu, J. Patrick K. Biddle, D.K. Wonsaleah, just to name a few. The stakes are high, and to get this right, you must continue to seek knowledge, as you step boldly into the future and do your part in fulfilling the dreams of a prosperous future.
In conclusion, I once again congratulations you all for this seminal achievement, and I say bravo for the tenacity that has brought you thus far. Now, I charge you to go out into the world, have compassion for the poor, empower the weak, challenge greed and injustice, and boldly claim your future!