UNDP Liberia Country Director Pa Lamin Beyai, has stressed the need for the establishment of more technical and vocational institutions, to create the strong midlevel professional cadre, essential for the country’s development.
Dr. Beyai made the call when he served as Commencement Speaker at the 67th Commencement Convocation of the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) over the weekend.
Speaking on the topic, “The Role of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) of Liberia,” Dr. Beyai said there is no doubt that to develop Liberia like any low-income country, it requires scientists, social scientists, accountants, managers, lawyers, bankers among others.
“The people who keep the lights on and engines running (so to speak), are those with TVET skills - electricians, auto mechanics, builders/masons, carpenters, agricultural technicians, information technologies (ITs) specialists, and many others. These skills in a very real sense hold the economy and society together… They provide independent sources of income, create jobs, and stimulate small-scale businesses,” The UNDP Country Director said.
He said the PAPD comes at a time when it is becoming increasingly difficult to diversify and innovate to stimulate development.
“By giving ‘power to the people’ to reduce inequality and vulnerability among Liberians (especially women, youths and the disadvantaged); poverty can be alleviated... This needs to be supported by appropriate economic policies and mechanisms that promote growth and create jobs through agriculture, infrastructure, innovative technology, and the expansion of skills and Knowledge,” Dr. Beyai stated.
The UNDP Country Director noted that he was highly encouraged that one of UNDP’s flagship projects- Business Opportunities Support Services the (BOSS), was partnering with BWI in entrepreneurship development activities.
He said UNDP’s goal is to ensure that entrepreneurship training is incorporated into BWI’s
Curriculum as a model to provide students with business development skills that will eventually make them ‘job creators rather than job-seekers’ upon graduation.
Dr. Beyai thanked the Board and the staff (present and past) of BWI for maintaining the legacy of the institution since its establishment in 1929. He pledged UNDP’s continuous commitment to working with and supporting the Government of Liberia towards the achievement of its Pro-Poor Agenda. “But this requires the dedicated and collective efforts from all of us,” he said.
BWI Principal and Executive Officer, Harris Fomba Tarnue thanked UNDP for the partnership and encouraged others to support initiatives that seek to empower the country’s youthful population.
“Despite the continuous decline in budgetary support to the Institution, this administration continues to improve the facilities and other programs through innovative means and partnerships,” Mr. Tarnue said.
He called on government to support the BWI and other technical and vocational institutions in the country if the proposed ‘Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development’ must be achieved.
In his valedictory address, the President of the graduating class (2017/2018) Junior J. Kolleh encouraged his colleagues to lead by examples.
“Our actions should speak clearly of who we are… Let’s go where there is no path and leave a trail that others will follow (quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson),” Kolleh said.
The Booker T. Washington Agriculture and industrial Institute (BWI) was founded in 1929; in realization of a dream envisaged by the late Liberian President Charles D.B. King and made possible with support from the Phelps Stokes Foundation of New York, United States of America (USA) and the Board of the Methodist Church in the USA.
Established as the country's first agricultural and vocational school, BWI was named after the late African-American economic right leader Booker T. Washington.