18 February 2013

Liberia: Fears Mount Over Fragility

The Minister Counselor for Press and Public Affairs at the Liberian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Gabriel I.H. Williams has warned that if the young people of Liberia are not educated, given a sense of belonging, including jobs, the country will continue in fragility despite ongoing post-war development.

He spoke on Friday during program commemorating Black History Month at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C where he deputized for Liberia's Ambassador to the US Jeremiah C. Sulunteh.

The Liberian envoy lamented that the young people of Liberia constitute more than 60 percent of the country's population, many of whom he said were armed by various warring factions during the civil war because they come from impoverished background and lack proper education.

Williams said although Liberia has made tremendous progress since the end of the civil crises, but the country's development goals would be difficult to achieve unless its young population benefits from proper education and training in various areas of technology.

Apparently considering the challenges facing Liberia's educational sector, the Liberian Diplomat subsequently launched an appeal for increased assistance from the United States Government for the development of Liberia's educational system.

He at the same time lauded the United States for its constructive engagement with Liberia since the end of the civil war, being a critical part of the process to sustain the country's peace and progress.

The author of a book on Liberia's civil war and its destabilizing effects in West Africa riveted the audience with his presentation on Liberia-United States relations under the theme, "The Historical Significance of Liberia in the Emancipation Movement."

Williams was accompanied to the program by Ms. DeContee Clements, Diaspora Affairs Liaison at the Liberian Embassy.

The impressive event, which was held under the auspices of the U.S. Education Department's branch of the Blacks In Government (BIG), was held around this year's national themes for Black History Month, "Emancipation and the March on Washington."

The event held in collaboration with the department's Equal Employment Opportunity Services (EEOS) was characterized by speeches on the themes of this year's Black History Month.

Other speakers included former U.S. Congressman William "Bill" Clay, Sr., a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), who provided "History of the Congressional Black Caucus"; while Ms. Darlene Young, National President of BIG, and Ms Cynthia Dinkins, Chief Executive Officer of Northern Virginia Urban League, spoke on activities of their respective organizations to empower African Americans, as well as children.

Making remarks at the start of the program, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said there was a tremendous sense of urgency within the US educational system, considering that many children, especially children of color and their families still do not have the opportunity they need to succeed.

Secretary Duncan pointed out that while the U.S. had made tremendous progress toward racial equality, there are still disparities between children of color and white children, regarding access to quality education, stressing the need for urgent efforts to close the gap.

Meanwhile, the President of BIG's U.S. Education Department Chapter Dr. Wanda E. Gill, has assured that her organization would work towards supporting educational programs in Liberia.

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