The Foundation for International Dignity (FIND) has launched its Professional Development Program in Voinjama City, Lofa County, with the provision of a tuition-free computer education program for the young people.
The FIND Professional Development Program was introduced in 2006 to provide vocational and technical training to Liberian Youth.
The program which was well attended by a cross section of youth from the various districts of the county will run from September 1 through November 31st, 2012 at which time the first graduation exercise is expected to take place.
In his welcome statement, Mr. Aaron Juaquellie, the National Program Officer of FIND, thanked the participants for the high turnout and admonished the youth to take ownership of the program and strive to build their skills in computer technology.
"We want to encourage you to take ownership of this school because FIND will not provide support for ever," the FIND Program Officer maintained.
He however cautioned the youth to protect computers and accessories as if these materials were theirs.
In his opening statement, Mr. Roosevelt Woods, the Executive Director of FIND who officially launched the program, informed the prospective students that computer usage has become the order of modernity and as such, local people should not be denied access in any way or manner to computer education.
Mr. Woods further lamented that computer education in the past had been considered for the rich and people who can afford to pay for the study.
"Our greatest desire is to train you to compete with your counterparts at the National and International levels," Mr. Woods told the citizens of Lofa.
He stated that research has revealed that students from rural communities perform better than those in urban metropolis due to less recreational activities in rural areas, adding that their location further places them in the right position to study and perform better than urban students.
"We will have only one person to a computer and each student will be entitled to three credit hours weekly, which is by far more than the time allocated to urban dwellers attending computer schools.
"This will place you at an added advantage to compete and even perform better than your colleagues provided if you take this opportunity very seriously," Mr. Woods pointed out to the enthusiastic youth and community residents of Lofa County.
The FIND Executive Director then asserted that though the program will be tuition-free, parents and guidance should take ownership of the initiative by contributing minimum amount for the running of the generator and sustainability of the program.
"A Board comprising a member from FIND's Executive Board, a representative from the education sector, a representative from the community, a youth representative and one person from the local authority will be constituted to provide oversight to the management team and help lobby for support for the program," Mr. Woods further noted.
According to the FIND Boss, as a means of ensuring conducive learning atmosphere for students benefiting from the program, no class will exceed 10 students, with each student to a computer.
Responding to series of questions from the youth, Mr. Woods stressed that the school is for the people of Lofa County and they must decide on how to run it.
FIND will only provide initial support and ensure that the curriculum is up to standard on par with conventional computer institutions.
In his closing statement, Mr. Woods paid tribute to Mr. Eric Willise Wowoh, the Executive Director of Change Agent Network, a US based non-governmental organization that has made significant contribution in providing tuition-free computer education to Liberians in Nigeria and Liberia. Mr. Wowoh is a son of Lofa County.
He promised to bring Mr. Wowoh on board to provide help to the computer school in terms of donating additional computers to the FIND Professional Development Program.
Also speaking at the program, Mrs. Winifred Cole, an Executive Board Member of FIND encouraged the youth to take the computer program very seriously because, according to her, computer has taken over every aspect of life including the communication industry.
"Lofa County is blessed to have a tuition-free computer school when others are paying high cost to acquire computer education," she stated.
For his part, the youth leader, Mr. Stephen Akoi Karnue, thanked FIND for the initiative and promised to take ownership of the program.
"We want to assure you and the management of FIND that your effort will never be in vain as we are prepared to take advantage of this opportunity to enhance our skills in computer knowledge," the youth chairman said.
He further called on all well-meaning Liberians and the international community to provide support in whatever ways to the youth of Voinjama District, adding that the youth is in dire need of assistance in the form of scholarship and economic empowerment.
Meanwhile, following the launching ceremony, there was an overwhelming turned out for registration.
Lofa is the second county apart from Montserrado that is benefiting from the FIND Professional Development Program.
The organization intends to establish additional two schools in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County (South Eastern Liberia) and Gbarnga, Bong County, where its National Headquarter is situated.