Wednesday, July 13, 2016

THE ROAD AHEAD - Keynote Address Delivered at the 11th Closing Ceremony of the Elizabeth Blunt School (Chocolate City, Gardnersville, Liberia)

July 10, 2016

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei, Keynote Speaker

The Proprietor
Mr. Oliver Saylee, Principal
Members of the teaching staff
Graduates and student body
Parents and Guardians
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

Today is a great day for us all in this hall as we all have many accomplishments to celebrate through the great works of the administration and teaching staff of the Elizabeth Blunt School. Some of us are celebrating our graduation from the Elizabeth Blunt School; some of us are celebrating our promotion to a new class; the teaching staff is celebrating the quality outputs of their hard works; While parents in particular are celebrating all of the accomplishments here that are the products of the hard works of both the school and the students.

I am therefore very grateful that I am here not just to speak to you all, but to join you in celebrating the success of the Elizabeth Blunt School and the success of its students. I am a living testimony of the quality of the teaching staff in this school, because the man who first taught me how to read, and write, Mr. Moiforay Massaquoi is a faculty member of this school. He is a strong and strict disciplinarian with a deep passion for education and training. Mr. Massaquoi remains a role model to thousands of young people today who passed through his tender hands. I am therefore convinced that with his kind in this school, we all can be assured of smart and disciplined students.

I recall vividly the years of the early 2000s when this school was established. I remember it gained fame in those days for providing free education to internally displaced persons who had fled the war in Lofa County and other parts of Liberia. The founder of this school, Mr. James Mamulu of blessed memory had a great vision which led him to establishing this renowned institution. The greatest tribute we can all pay to his memory is to ensure that his vision continues to live on.

And that vision is to provide quality education for the children of Liberia. It is because of the farsightedness and the big dream of Mr. Mamulu that we are all here celebrating various accomplishments today. It is therefore my plea to the administration of this school to continue to make this dream a reality.

In March 2015, I met Ms. Elizabeth Blunt, the benefactor of this school, in Nigeria. And we briefly discussed about the progress and future of this school. She expressed concerns about the sustainability of the school. I am sure this is a concern for the administration as well, and I am convinced that necessary strategies are being worked out to keep this school functioning and providing quality education to the young people.
I will be speaking to you all today on the theme THE ROAD AHEAD. No one knows the length of the road ahead; neither do we know what lies on the road for each of us. Those are the wonders of the God we all worship. He alone knows everything.

However, we are able to prepare ourselves to face whatever lies ahead. And that preparation is through obtaining home training, formal education, and building good and lasting relationships with our neighbors, friend and colleagues. There may be many other ways, but the underlining principle is to follow conventional path defined by the society in which you live, or by the religious belief and values you subscribe to.
The road ahead, obviously, is not a straight path, it has hills and valleys, it is full of challenges, and it is full of fortunes and misfortunes. In the end, those who are well prepared are those who accomplish their dreams along the way.

Today, we celebrate the realization of our various dreams, but the road is still ahead. We are graduating from K-II, Grade Six and Grade Nine; and our parents are proud. But the road ahead which will lead us to finishing Grade 12 and even college is challenging, but also very promising and exciting. It is important therefore that we brace ourselves for those challenges.

And I encourage all parents and sponsors here to continue to work and hold the hands of these students in continuing on the road. Without your support and mentorship, it is difficult to determine how they would continue on this journey; but I can safely say here that your pieces of advice, your financial and moral support and the encouragement you give them will make them to realize their life long dreams along the road they have chosen to trek.

In his poem the ‘Road Not Taken”, The 20th Century poet Robert Frost talked about two roads diverging in the woods. He took the road that was less traveled and realized that by taking that road it made all the difference.

The road not frequently traveled is the best road in making life’s journey; but sadly a lot of us traveled just one road which in most instances divert from the conventional values and practices our society generally expect of us.

Let us therefore take the road that is not frequently traveled. That is the road that calls for respect for parents, teachers, and others; that is the road that calls for good citizenship and the respect for the rule of law; the road not frequently taken is the road that calls for sincerity and honesty in our dealings. It is road that calls for progressive development and unity.

Today, many of us have taken the other road, and when we take the frequently traveled road without thinking and calling ourselves to order, we bring anarchy to our society, and we destroy each other by cheating, stealing and even killing.

Today, there is much discussion about the poor state of education in Liberia. Our education system has broken down because the road frequently taken today in our schools are that of corruption which comes in the form of bribery. We are all guilty of this corruption – parents, teachers, and students bear equal responsibilities. To solve this problem therefore, we must all divert and take the other road and we must all contribute to solving this problem.

Without addressing corruption in our education system, we run the risk of producing functionally illiterate people through our school systems. It is important that school administration put in place strong systems of check and balance that periodically review and evaluate teachers output which must be measured against the performance of the students.

Elizabeth Blunt School has to be a leader in the education sector by setting good standards for your students and your teachers. You have to get on the road that is not frequently taken, which obviously is the best road. This school is already on the path and can be counted among the best in Gardnersville. Adding more qualities require adding innovation to your teaching styles, your disciplinary techniques and introducing your students to new programs.

As the world is fast advancing in technology, this school must work harder to introduce students to new technologies and new skills that match the world market. This requires adding technological and basic vocational skills to your curriculum at least at the junior high level. By doing this you will be preparing your students for both the academic world and the job market which are both require for the journey on the road ahead.
Finally Ladies and gentlemen, THE ROAD AHEAD is unending and rocky and full of challenges, but it is left with each of us to make it passable. Experience tells that those that seek good training and sound education are those who make the journey easier and are those who make the best contribution to the development of our society.

I embolden us all therefore to hold hands and support each other in unison in making this great journey together for the development of ourselves, our community, and our country. That journey should gain new energy today. The graduates and students here today must be seen as the bearer of that energy. They must get our attention, our support and our encouragement as they continue this journey on the ROAD AHEAD with new level of energy.

Thank you so much, and may God bless us all!!!!!