With nearly 44% of the population under the age of 14, Liberia, like many other sub-Saharan Africa countries, faces a challenge in empowering young people as they mature. Unlike many Western countries which have an average of between 15 and 20% of the population under the age of 14, Liberian youth will certainly have many challenges ahead as they search for employment in a country with remarkably high rates of unemployment.
One student whom I spoke with in Lofa County, told me about having to move back a few levels in school. After spending most of his young life in Guinea as a refugee from the war, and therefore, learning in French, he has great challenges in now learning in English. Despite being set back a few years, Garcon told me he is eager to continue his education and eventually go to college.
In the case of Liberia, where many decades of development and advancement were lost due to civil war, it seems as though it may be easy to become apathetic. From what I have seen from Liberians, this is not the case.
As evidenced by the numerous graduation parties and the determination of young students to continue to learn, it is apparent that most Liberians place a high value on education. As the school year ends for the summer, parents are celebrating their children’s achievements. Whether completing Kindergarten, 6th grade or 12th grade, Liberian parents encourage their children throughout their educational careers.
Certainly graduation parties are also a great means of socializing which is also important as neighborhoods are reestablished and relationships rekindled. This past weekend I spent most of my time with friends at a number of different graduation parties. Dancing, eating, drinking and conversing were omnipresent. As families continue to support their children through school, there is hope that entrepreneurship, development and creativity can lead to jobs, an increased standard of living and a bright future. If the determination and optimism of students is any indication, mama Liberia will be able to progress in that direction.
Posted By Adam Welti
Posted Jul 13th, 2009