Founded in 1995 as a tertiary educational institution supportive at government’s efforts in reducing the illiteracy rate amongst its population, the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) situated on Camp Johnson Road, Monrovia, has begun tailoring the activities of students attending thereat against the multifarious post-war challenges facing the nation, with the objective of making them more productive and contributory to nation-building.
Headed by Dr. Jean Bell Manning and in spite the odds that have had to be experienced since its founding, though resolved to attaining the institutional objectives that have necessitated the creation of three colleges and nine departments, practical community development continues to remain the core in proving that whatever discipline may be pursued by individuals studying thereat, the key objective should remain the making of meaningful contributions to society.
Thus, unlike yester-years when primary and junior high school students became exposed to community development initiatives, acknowledging the fact that upon graduation from either high school or universities, knowledge imparted at the fundamental stage would later impact their lives in proving their educational worth, simple school gardening to buttress support provided by CARE/Liberia, coupled with the construction of pipe-borne water became the scenes, preparing many to later become engineers with shared knowledge of either peace corps volunteers, foreign or local instructors.
Following nearly three to four decades and with those now finding themselves at such levels preoccupied with lives dependent upon “silver platters,” expecting the manna to fall from the sky, the AMEU, apparently out of careful studies of tertiary education in Liberia that continues to witness some earners of degrees becoming liabilities rather than assets to the nation, has since been infused with new dynamism at community development, particularly those doing Sociology thereat, with requirement to undertake at least a project within communities prior to their graduation.
In apparent demonstration of their full adherence to the pre-requisite, it is interesting that Section 1 of students undergoing studies in Sociology at the AMEU, under the tutelage of Mr. Godfrey Eloho, Chairman of the Sociology Department and also an instructor, divided student doing 401 into three groups to embark upon self-selected projects involving sanitation, provision of food commodities and the construction of hand-pumps in selected local communities.
With results expected prior to their graduation, Group One selected to conduct sanitation work at the Paynesville Community School, whilst Group Three elected to simply mobilize resources in providing rice to an orphanage home in the Brewerville Community.
However, following careful studies conducted by Group Two, headed by student Mulbah Flomo, they instead chose to construct a hand-pump at the Gray D. Allison High School at the Barclay Training Centre (BTC) on the United Nations Drive in Monrovia, a school with an enrollment of 1,632 students and falls under the supervision of the Ministry of National Defense.
The selection of the construction of a hand-pump at the school was against the firm backdrop of the absence of the water at the educational institution that has proven over the years to have always been judged first or second during drilling exercises particularly on August 24 which happens to be a national holiday to mark the yearly observance of Flag Day throughout the country.
Understandably, just a day to the official dedication of the AMEU student project, a communication was allegedly received by the leader of Group Two from the Deputy Minister of National Defense for Operations, urging them to halt the dedication in anticipation of forming part of this year’s Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Day that falls on February 11.
Urging the group to identify another project against the time-limit provided, the leader of Group Two was constrained to limit the activity to the AMEU involving the reconditioning of whatever development projects had been undertaken by the administration, with emphasis largely placed on changing the mind-set of others attending thereat relative to impacting communities.
With Chairman Eloho left with no option but to express gratitude to the students of Group Two, considered the new nation builders, for having demonstrably performed their tasks assigned them at practical community development that is likely to invigorate the spirit of incoming students, indeed a civic responsibility that has for year been missing in society, whatever this may mean to the ordinary mind obviously point to the need to adopting positive attitudes towards the socio-economic growth and development of Liberia.
Worth crediting to the administration of Liberia’s 19th President, the Rev. Dr. William Richard Tolbert, Jr. during the 1970s, having apparently done minor editing of plans envisaged and partially initiated by the late President Dr. William V.S. Tubman out of aging, the re-named Gray D. Allison School along with the Church constructed at the BTC ought not to be viewed from a prestigious perspective but one intended to simply teach now and future generations about the support that ought to be given to the military and their wards, since they, too, can play meaningful roles in the developmental process of the nation, using God as the only source of strength and not necessarily attention!
AMEU President Jean Bell Manning therefore deserve an applause for the educational steps employed, in spite the periodic haloo-baloo tending to hang dark clouds over its curriculum designed to meet existing challenges in society.
Better still, Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai who may currently be busy in the preparation of a platoon to be dispatched to the Republic of Mali in the coming weeks, dependent upon Legislative and Executive approvals, since it is indeed cost-intensive, ought to receive with open arms whatever students may want to undertake at the barracks from which has since emerged the Barracks Young Controllers (BYC) and its child, Leopard Invaders, that is likely to rejuvenate in the months ahead, with some very serious old but now professional names to surface, since they are truly engaged into community growth and development throughout the country. This is indeed the undercurrent.