Two outstanding Liberian teachers, featured on our Education Page in yesterday's edition, have expressed hope for a better Liberia with a number of primary conditions.
Teacher Jesse Wah King was recognized last Thursday by one of her students, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, during the induction of one of Ma Jesse's other students, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks, as president of the University of Liberia.
Teacher King, in an exclusive interview with our Reporter David Menjor, said she is praying that God will lead the Liberian people to elect to the presidency and to the House "people who love Liberia."
"The primary reason for our country's lack of development," she told Reporter Menjor, "is that its leaders have failed to demonstrate their true love for the country."
God Himself must have appreciated Mother King as a teacher, who taught in classrooms at St. John's Mission in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County and the College of West Africa (CWA) for 43 unbroken years, and produced scores of students who have made great contributions to the nation and world.
Why do we acknowledge this divine appreciation? Because the supreme Giver of life, Almighty God, has not only kept Teacher Jesse Wah King going for 98 years, but has kept her in excellent health, including almost total recall (meaning she remembers almost everything). Part of that everything includes her recall of having taught Ellen Johnson (now President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf) and her 13 classmates Bible and Music at CWA.
Imagine the thousands, if not millions of people who have been blessed with old age, but some of whom, beginning in their 60s, are yet suffering from the big A--Alzheimer's disease. Yet here is Teacher King still remembering what she taught Ellen and her classmates in 1953 to 55 when they graduated! Among them were the dux, John Weseh McClain, who graduated twice from Harvard; Emile Woods, who became a gynecologist; and Dunstan McCauley, an electrical engineer.
Another manifestation of her blessing from the Almighty is the great accomplishments of so many of her students, including the first elected woman President in Africa, President Sirleaf, and now the second woman to become president of the University of Liberia, Dr. Ophelia Weeks. Teacher King also taught, believe it or not, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, another highly successful CWA grad, who is also now running for president of Liberia.
Teacher King also taught CWA's Class of 1960, including its dux, Dr. Thelma Traub Awori, an eminent international civil servant, now Liberian Consul General to Kampala; her classmates, Victoria Tolbert, President Tolbert's second daughter; Dr. C. Zamba Liberty, once UL vice president; former Chief Justice, Counselor Henry Reed Cooper; former Commerce Minister Miata Beysolow; and John Togbakollie Woods, former Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA). All of these are just from one CWA class Teacher King taught.
As she fast approaches her centennial year, we pray that God will grant her continued good health, and her wish that Liberians, by His grace, will elect someone "who more than self their country loves."
The other teacher, Mrs. Charlotte Walker Allen, who celebrated her 86th birthday last Saturday, said love for country and unification of the people are key to Liberia's advancement. Though blind since the 1990s due to glaucoma, Teacher Charlotte has a very active mind. She, too, is praying for a positive future for Liberia, and that God will lead the Liberian people to elect a president and enlightened and patriotic members of the House.
She taught in the Bong Mines Company school system from 1963 to 1988 and trained many doctors, engineers, technicians and civil servants.
She told Reporter Menjor that her parents were too poor to afford her a sound education, therefore she had to depend on other people for her education. She appealed to all who are able to help other children besides their own, to enable them to lead a productive and contributing life.
Like many Liberians, she lamented the proliferation of all these political parties. Her personal wish is for not more than three parties, instead of 20 or more at each election.
She attributed Liberia's lack of development partly to the unemployment of so many of our youth, "Many young people have graduated from high school and even colleges and universities, yet cannot find jobs."
Successive Liberian governments are responsible for this, because the educational policies are so general and do not train the young for work preparedness. In Germany, students in high school learn business, including import and export. The Booker Washington Institute (BWI) is one of the few schools that train students to find employment in trades, while they yet seek further educational advancement.
We hope that the incoming administration will seriously review the educational policies and make them more employment-friendly, in addition to beefing up our math, science, social studies and civics instruction.
We sincerely thank these two teachers, Mrs. Jesse Wah King and Mrs. Charlotte Walker Allen, for their outstanding contribution to our children's education and wish them continued long life, good health and comfort.