By: Jerromie S. Walters
Benson Street, Liberia: In an effort to promote academic excellence in Liberia, ‘Educate the NextGen’ (ETN), a local Liberian NGO has launched Liberia’s First-Ever National Academic Excellence Award.
This year’s edition is held in honor of fallen Liberian scholar Vallai M. Dorley, intrinsically from September 1st– 4th, 2022, and will specifically recognize the efforts of students from Montserrado, Nimba, Margibi, Grand Bassa, Bong, Grand Cape Mount and Bomi Counties respectively.
Addressing a news conference recently, Liberia National Academic Excellence Award Icon 2022, Mr. T. Benjamin Myers said the Academic Excellence Award will bring together, honor, celebrate and mentor 123 bright students across seven counties.
However, Mr Myers believe academic competition and a merit-based system in schools today have declined when compared to pre-war status. The most vivid reason for this is the lack of a culture of Identifying, Honouring, Celebrating and Mentoring Liberia’s brightest minds.
Elaborating on the financial cost attached to the project, Myers said a total of Us$14,686.00 is needed for the project implementation.
He further added that said amount will go towards transportation of the students from their various counties to Monrovia and back, purchase their awards and certificates, print their T-shirts, and feed them.
“The breakdown of this amount per county is as follow: Montserrado US$5,280, Nimba US$1,400, Margibi US$1,000, Bong US$1,040, Grand Bassa US$960.00, Grand Cape Mount US$550, Bomi County US$550 and operational cost UD$3,906. NOTE: All awards, certificates, medals, including all printed materials will carry Veteran Vallai M. Dorley name as our way of honouring him for his role played in education and academic excellence,” he further expanded.
Considering the value of the award, the team disclosed plans in working closely with the Ministry of Education and also the office of the President for special recognition of Awardees.
At the same time, the team called on the public to join them in ensuring a fruitful implementation of the project, so that students feel appreciated for their commitment in school.
“I am sending out this SOS call to the leaders of this country and believers in education- be it from the opposition or the ruling establishment- but especially to those from the Counties named above, to support their counties as it is done with reference to the Miss Liberia Beauty Pageant, the National Counties Sports Meet or any other social entertainment program. This will be their way of inspiring academic excellence, a merit-based system in schools and keeping the legacy of those who dedicated their lives to academic excellence (Vallai M. Dorley Edition), he stressed.
Disclosing the Implementation dates for the project, Myers said the Awardees hunt will commence July 11-15,2022, follow by Recruitment of awardees July 20-27,2022, Interview August 1-5,2022, Profiling of Awardees August 10-20,2022, Arrival of Awardees September 1, 2022, Training in leadership and opportunities search September 2,2022, Community service and sports September 3,2022, Awards Ceremony September 4, 2022.
In the spirit of collaboration and support towards education in Liberia, the group keen interest in partnership and sponsorship for a smooth implementation of the project.
They however announced Educate the NextGen (ETN) award Go Fund Me, Cash App and Mobile Money intended to raise the projected amount. “I am calling on all Liberians, including local and international organizations to support this initiative,” Myers appealed.
It can be recalled that in 2015, ETN started working on a solution through the Liberia Valedictorian Award which has since Identified, Honoured and celebrated over 200 brilliant Liberians who are making tremendous academic progress and leading different social changes around the world.
This year, ETN is transitioning the Valedictorian Award program to the Liberia National Academic Excellence Award (Vallai M. Dorley Edition 2022) which is expected to be serve as Liberia’s premiere academic recognition and mentorship platform.
Mr. T. Benjamin Myers who was earlier announced as the Liberia National Academic Excellence Award Icon 2022, accepted the tittle and applauded the group for the recognition. He noted that the concept of the project is very important to the improvement of education in Liberia.
“I am personally passionate about being part of this worthy undertaking because it will provide a platform that shines light on Academic Excellence, enhance a merit-based system in schools, and honours an exceptional veteran academic excellence Icon in the late Vallai M. Dorley,” he said.
Myers is one of the many persons who graduated from High School as one of the best students and a division II candidate, but could not enroll at any university because of financial constraint
Noting from said backdrop, he expressed his unwavering commitment to the team, as he believes the project seeks to lead an advocacy that is geared towards bridging that gap.