Time is overdue for contemporary educators to emulate the legacies of a horde of deceased educators including Dr. Mary Antoinette Brown-Sherman, former president of the University of Liberia; Dr. Bertha Baker Aazngo and A. Doris Banks-Henries of the erstwhile department of public instruction; Tubman High principal, A. Nanu Manley; and BWI principal Moses K. Weefur, by wiping the tears of government and the nation as a whole.
It is mind-boggling why most students attending present-day high schools where all textbooks are 'modern' lack enthusiasm to strive for excellence compared to those who attended high schools that existed before the 1970s when the learning atmosphere was characterized by academic competition amongst students on one hand, and between schools on the other hand.
For example, as students at the Lutheran Training Institute (LTI) competed amongst themselves, likewise those attending CWA and Saint Patrick's, to name a few schools, principals and teachers imparted academic and moral lessons that prepared their students to make name for their schools during national examinations.
And before the advent of the 1970s it was rare, in strict compliance with our 6-3-3 and four years for college curriculum originally designed by Mrs. Azango, for any student to change school at will without a proper report card, transcript and letter of transfer (giving reasons for doing so.
But reports abound these days that unruly students penalized with NTR (not to return) are readily accepted in other schools without background checks of any kind, a clear practice of academic indiscipline.
Now school administrators and teachers at every level in institutions of learning--public and private--throughout the country are in the dock and must act quickly to uplift the quality of education in order to redeem themselves from the indictment of being responsible for the woeful decadence in education
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is deeply angered over the poor quality of education in the country and persistently notifies educationalists to completely overhaul the system if Liberia is to make progress and compete in a 21st century world.
"The corruption and theft extends from teachers to officials at the Ministry of Education and the counties. They are diverting for their personal use the resources intended for school buildings, furniture, textbooks and science equipment. They are stealing from the very children they were hired to help educate. In the end, they are stealing from all of us," President Sirleaf charged in an address to the nation marking the 204th birth anniversary of first President Joseph Jenkins Roberts, whose legacy is rooted in education for Liberia's children for whom he willed cash and real property.
She revealed an alarming picture of the decline in education, saying: "For every 100 children who enroll in primary school, only 60 will complete grade 6; only 20 out of the 100 will sit the WAEC exams at the end of grade 12, and only 15 will pass. Even for those who complete school, not everyone is learning what they should."
Though the president invites Liberians to concretely partner with government in seeking lasting solutions surrounding four innovations aimed at enhancing learning in the country, we suggest a major symposium with stakeholders to strategize how to fix the system.
The meeting should map out means toward actualizing initial proposals by the President to "attract the best people into the teaching profession, and tie their incentives to the success of their students."
The importance of education must be impressed upon school administrators and teachers for they mold the minds of children who are inclined to copy their morals as virtues of life.
Providing pupils with free meals, drugs and sanitation facilities as done here in the 1960s by CARE is an added novel incentive presently done in many African countries in getting children into school and keeping them there.
On discipline, school handbooks in yesteryears never compromised on strict penalties for crooked teachers and students. Sexual offence prompted immediate dismissal and prosecution for teachers involved while offending students were expelled in the presence of their parents.
Cognizant of learning, educationalists of yesteryears scrupulously followed the national curriculum, encouraged academic excellence through honor roll listings with token prices, and denied students with poor grades from participating in extracurricular activities, including student leadership roles.
Tertiary education must directly relate to realities applicable in national development. Agriculture students, for example, must have internship with researchers at CARI and hands-on farmers to avoid being like one UL student who had long difficulties in finding a job after earning BA in political science that he stealthily studied while the Ministry of Agriculture supported him as cadet for four years while attending the University.