The educational curriculum of Liberia needs an overhaul to reflect the dynamics of the changing global labor market - with more emphasis placed on science, technology, engineering, and math, as well as on innovation and critical thinking. If this materializes, young graduates of institutions of higher learning and completers of vocational programs in the country will be competitive in the enormous global labor market, and this changed opportunity would also offer Liberia copious benefits economically, socially, and in terms of human security and development.
Graduates of educational institutions and completers of vocational training programs in Liberia are not competitive at all- they lack the rigors of today's labor market demands. While this is a serious concern for me as a professional Liberian with a niche in global public policy, labor market analysis, and workforce development, this is not what scares me the most about Liberia's future.
When it comes to Liberia, I mostly worried about one thing: The absence or lack of patriotism and nationalism in the Liberian society and amongst Liberians for their country. This predicament has and continues to ruin Liberia in the short term with dangerous consequences. It could also fracture the collective integrity and image of all Liberians in the long term.
Liberian leaders – past and present, as well as the country's educational system, society, and culture, failed to inculcate a sense of national pride – the kind of positive nationalism and constructive patriotism in its citizenry, especially in its young people. As a result, the reasoning of most Liberians rejects logic. Their thinking lacks depth; their utterances are short on substance; their perceptions are blurring; their decisions are flawed and faulty, and their actions are not only backward, but they are also dangerous to the country and its future.
The way things are done in Liberia, by most Liberians, and amongst Liberians makes no sense at all. Liberia has become a country where the citizens don't value one another, their country, and the country's future, their people and their people's livelihood.
Liberia is one of the only nations where its citizens' priorities are not only misguided and misplaced; it is a country where citizens behold, cherish, and value strangers more than themselves and their fellow Liberians. And prefer to enrich a stranger or a non-native born Liberian at their own expense and the expense of their fellow Liberians. This weird mentality, unfortunately, is primarily ingrained in the so-called Liberian elite and quasi educated sect who mostly happen to be the so-called political class. This attitude of Liberians makes their neighbors in West Africa cringe and leaves their international partners in disbelief.
Liberians may be able to reposition their country from its present trajectory of self-destruction, structural isolation, and perpetual global pity to a nation of sensible people if they act now and act fast. It means the country's educational system must include positive patriotism and constructive nationalism in its educational curriculum and ensure that both aspirations also become a part of a national awareness campaign.
Without question, positive patriotism and constructive nationalism are critical and necessary consciousness for any group of people to have if they are serious and if they want to prosper collectively. Considering how vital the spirit of positive patriotism and constructive nationalism is, Liberian schools need to include lessons in patriotism and nationalism as a part of their academic and cultural orientation for young people and individuals in public service.
When the youth of a country and those in public service are patriotic and nationalistic, they act as responsible citizens. It is said that; 'Youth is the future of any nation, and for the bright future of the country to shine, the youth needs to be taught about how to protect and preserve their nation and act in its best interest to make it outshine.' Equally, when citizens in public service are patriotic and nationalistic, they do everything to maintain the integrity of the country by making prudent and wise decisions, engaging in and undertaking honorable engagements, and pursuing visionary ventures void of dishonesty, bribery, and self-aggrandizement.
A positive patriot and constructive nationalist loves his or her country and is loyal to his or her country. On the contrary, the majority of Liberians, especially most of those who have entered public service – past and present, are not loyal to Liberia. The absence or lack of this loyalty translates into the lack of loyalty, respect, and love for their fellow Liberians. Unfortunately, Liberia is the loser and a mockery to the rest of our neighbors in West Africa and others around the world.
Some Liberians, mainly privileged and shady Liberians, run to Ghana, Senegal, and other countries and then marvel at the progress those countries are making. Despite the common African problems that we all share, the majority of Senegalese, Ghanaians, and others largely do not betray the national and collective interest of their respective nations and people for personal and short term gains. Neither do they elevate strangers above their fellow citizens nor foreign businesses above businesses owned and operated by their fellow citizens?
Patriotism and nationalism are not a bad idea if such actions are intended to protect the collective security and welfare of a people from abuse, and if such actions are also peaceful and beneficial. For example, Ghana recently issued bill banning foreign nationals or non-Ghanaians from engaging in retail trading, according to the Afrika Heroes . Several other news groups including the BBC and The Africa Report have reported on the story. This is visionary leadership, competence and good governance. It is important because unlike Liberia, Ghanaians do not want to spectators in their own economy and paupers in their own country.
There are several benefits to being patriotic and nationalistic as a citizen. When citizens are nationalistic and patriotic, they become self-motivated, endeavor to be good leaders and work to promote better governance, strive to be productive, and frequently render selfless service to others and their country.
Real patriotism and constructive nationalism enhance social cohesion, nurture peace, and national security in any country. Furthermore, being patriotic towards one's nation and people is beneficial in many respects including the fact that it motivates an individual, especially those in public service and leadership, towards undertaking their day to day activities in the interest and for the welfare and future of their country and people in mind.
Unless Liberians can collectively choose to foster a sense of patriotism and constructive nationalism, the country's path to an irreversible obliteration is absolute, sad, and dangerous for its future. That is precisely why all Liberians must ensure that positive patriotism and constructive nationalism become a part of the educational system curriculum and also as a public awareness mandate for communities.
About the Author:
J.N. Williams is a Catholic educated public philosopher and a U. S. trained public policy and institutional governance professional with strong expertise in job creation policy, workforce development analysis, and socio-economic growth and development. He can be reached at [email protected]