By Stephen G. Fellajuah
Serving the keynote address of the opening ceremony to the Liberia National Students Union National Summit and International Students Day-2022, the Superintendent of the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS), Mr. Isaac Saye-Lakpoh Zawolo, urged the students movement to rise to the occasion to address challenges confronting students.
He said with a well-coordinated effort with young people and their organization in the driver’s seat, the battle can be won.
The MCSS chief executive encouraged the Union to continue to function as a barometer of societal commitment to genuine participatory democracy, adding that they should keep the flame of justice, fair play, and equal rights ablaze.
On Thursday, Liberia National Students Union (LINSU) officially launched the inaugural edition of the National Youth & Student Summit-(NYSS), a signature project of the National Student movement with the foremost objective of contributing to the development of human capital of the young people and students of the republic in diverse professional disciplines, arts and culture, entrepreneurship, civic education among others.
Of an estimated 2.5 million students across Liberia, the Union said the initiative is an effort to mitigate some of the many challenges within the Liberian society amongst which are ill development of human capital, youth vulnerability, Sexual Gender Base Violence, Youthful Unemployment, Poor Infrastructure, Poor Healthcare, Political inclusion, and many others.
In its pilot phase, the 1st edition of the NYSS will gathered over 300 young people and students from across the fifteen political subdivisions of the country, and it’s our target that the impact of the summit will grow chronologically by the years.
Held Thursday, November 17, 2022 at the Corina hotel in Monrovia, under the theme “Education – A Right & Precursor to Equity, Peace, Democracy, and National Development The MCSS Superintendent noted that the interrelatedness and connectedness of equity, peace, and democracy to national development are incontestable.
Mr. Isaac Saye-Lakpoh Zawolo, premised his address on the topic: Confronting the triple threats – A task for our Movement”. The triple threat of adolescent pregnancy, drug addiction, poverty, and dishonesty.
Speaking further, the MCSS boss mentioned that the adolescence pregnancy rate in Liberia is staggeringly high. It is estimated that “1 in 3 adolescent girls are pregnant before the age of 18” in Liberia. These girls should be in school and not in the maternal wards. But, for most of these girls pregnancy is something pinned on them by the neglect of society.
He continued that Adolescence pregnancy is a menace to the past, present, and future. This is why, though MCSS strongly support the students’ movement in its cries for “democracy and better schools”, saying attention should not be limited to criticizing governments, but all must seek solutions to the problems of teenage pregnancy.
“These young women need your support. They need the wraparound services to first of all avoid pregnancy and when pregnancy occurs the support to return and remain in school. This is a new challenge. As you know, new challenges require new approaches. The students’ movement cannot abdicate – it must act to save our girls and set them on a path to full recovery. This is a charge you must ascend to.
“At the MCSS, we have begun investing in girls as a means of preventing premature pregnancies. We have started assigning two female guidance counselors to each high school and are providing additional training for the counselors. The MCSS has also extended its reach to other programs including the More Than Me Academy to help keep girls in school. We will continue to play our part”, he stated.
Commenting on the drug situation in Liberia, he praised the Liberian Legislature for passing very stiff anti-drugs laws, describing the action of the lawmaker as a laudable achievement. But not even these laws are a panacea to the complex problems of drug use by adolescence.
The role you must play here is pivotal. Harness your reach; exert your influence and let’s chase drugs from our schools, he added, saying “we have a challenge but equally, we have an opportunity to transform our society. Let’s come together to address the challenge and take advantage of the opportunity.”
Earlier, officially launching the the Summit, the Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Education, Amb.. Latim Dathong revealed that more young people are now in school than any time in the country history.
He acknowledged the cardinal advocacy role played by the student’s movement and said this young generation has a greater responsibility than any generation before it. Minister Dathong mentioned that for the nation to be better, the leaders and the young people have to rise to the occasion.
“You have to take your national responsibility to the country as a priority. The decision we make today will determine where the country goes. The key to the future of the country is in the hand of the young people,”, Mr. Dathong said.