Masses’ Revolution Hits Its True Anchor
-Free Public Undergraduate Education!
For a very long time, the Liberian struggle for social, economic and political liberation and equality had proved totally pointless until the impoverished majority cut the corner on December 26, 2017. They did so by electing George Forky Klon Jlaleh Gbakugbeh Tarpeh Tanyonoh Manneh Weah as President of Liberia. What delayed the realization of the Revolution, rightly predicted over 60 years ago by legendary D. Tweh, was the rampant infestation of the masses with illiteracy. Illiteracy was the ideal weapon by the elites to properly subdue the masses and to sustain the status quo because it justifies the policies of exclusion and denial since the rest of the citizens lacked the technical and intellectual wherewithal to participate.
And the injection of illiteracy into the veins of the masses came variously through structural systems that sanction not only difficulties in getting enrolled at premier schools, particularly getting a college education, but also in playing down the supply of the necessary academic environment—facilities, equipment and incentives. This created a vast ill-prepared and ineffective citizenry that would not question the status quo, compete and advocate for equality and seek inclusion in the socioeconomic and political governance of the country.
The 1980 Revolution that followed years of progressive activism set the masses stage for equality, justice and participation but the convolution of historical circumstances shrewdly engineered by the same status quo short circuited and reversed the struggle.
But the 2017 presidential election was a moment to finally undo the status quo and end the endless struggle for human empowerment and equality. In a sense, it was civil revolt to bring down domination of a few elites who had thrived for decades on mass illiteracy and half-baked citizenry.
It was not a surprise that the elitist status quo fought back vociferously to crush the fundamental social revolt,as it fought to death to succeed itself in national leadership and to perpetrate its evil designs. The fight was bloody. It was winding. It demonized the coalition of the willing bent on changing business as usual and spreading power to the people.
But on December 26, the fight ended. Power was obtained by the people. And one cannot be adequately elated and justified that the Head of the Revolution has gone deep and hard on lingering woes that had afflicted the people, which was a necessity after all—liberating the masses from the chains of exclusion and marginalization through mass education and mass literacy.
Wednesday, October 24, 2018 watered the seed of the long-sought liberation. President George Manneh Weah announced what is to be most indelible legacy any revolutionary leader—let along any political leader of Liberia—has ever done. Students attending undergraduate public universities and colleges in Liberia will not pay tuition again. Children of slum dwellers and other impoverished families, urban or rural, can have a college degree without paying for it. Liberians consulting tech engineers or witchdoctors to pass Diversity Visas to go to America where their children would have college education can now have their children have a college education in Liberia. That policy decision is historic, as it is rare and unprecedented in Liberia and Africa.
Only one person—since 171 years of Independence of Liberia—could do this. He is the one because like millions of other Liberians, he is or was a victim of systemic denial of opportunity to get early education. He lived and grew up in the slum. He knows what it means not to remain in school year round either because parents cannot afford tuition, or books or uniform and other necessities for school. He encountered poverty firsthand and confronted the temptation of despair of being anything better in life. And more importantly, even as he got to the High Seat of Public Service, he never forgets those stings of poverty. Nowhere he visits regularly in Monrovia than the slum communities. Nowhere this President targets prominently for social service delivery than the slums and rural part where the masses of the people who were treated as jetsam and flotsams and pariahs in this country reside.
Shortly before the rather unprecedented policy action of free public college education, President Weah had launched an online platform that has ended effectively perennial registration-related protests. Can you imagine the University of Liberia had ended—perhaps for the first time in many years—a registration process without brouhaha! Everyone knows that prior to this period, UL registration had been without chaos fit only for masters of taekwondo.
Even while critics—some on record for politicizing education as an election issue—are still asking where his Government will get the money to fund the cost for free public college education in Liberia and to build paved roads connecting the rural poor to Monrovia, George
Forky Klon Jlaleh Gbakugbeh TarpehTanyonoh Manneh Weah is saying one thing: Nothing is worth this country’s last penny than for an educated citizenry and tarmac road reaching every nook and cranny in Liberia. With this, the masses’ struggle will truly end and their Revolution is finally truly anchored.