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OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT SIRLEAF

Dear President Sirleaf,
 
Two ministries hold the key to Liberia’s future. Forget Finance and Foreign ministries, the so-called lucrative ministries. The Ministries of Health and Education are the two when not managed properly will doom the country for a very long time.  I need not tell you why because the reasons are quite obvious. These two ministries need a lot of innovation if we must change the current trajectory of the country. 
 
Take the Ministry of Education for example. Let’s even go on a smaller level and look at the Monrovia Consolidated School system or MCSS. There should be no reason a public school student will leave Barnersville or New Krutown and commute to Central Monrovia or Sinkor for another MCSS school. If all the schools in the system are on the same level - unified curriculum, lesson planning, standards, etc., monitoring will be easier and students will not have to travel far for school. It is evident that plenty of our high school students can’t even read let alone write at junior high level! Almost no one in college can boast of reading at least 10 books (novels) in their entire lifetime.
 
Our people are dying from poor or no care. There should be no reason why we can not make use of existing technologies and process improvement methodologies to bring our health care system back to life. As I said before, medical doctors especially those who went to medical school when President Tubman was still in his first term do not make good health ministers. Let’s us not continue the mistake that to become health minister, one needs a medical degree and look to those with training and experience in Health policy, Public Health, Healthcare Management, etc.
 
In view of the above, please fire both Education and Health ministers and replace them as soon as possible based on recommendations from  organizations, leaders, researchers, experts…  in those respective areas. For example, The Liberia teachers Union should have a say in recommending a minister of education.
 
I am worried about the school and healthcare systems and my friend who just returned from Liberia and equally worried asked me at the end of our phone conversation “If we don’t, who will do it for us?” Even though he had earlier told me that Liberians returning from the USA are the problem for their lack of will to do what is right and best for the country, we both agree that so many of us have to return to help and it is incumbent upon the power that be to open the doors.
 
The more I think about the issues our country still faces, it is clear that it transcends the presidency. But I believe if things are not put in the proper perspective during your presidency, it will take us a very long time to get them fixed. After your term, the good will towards Liberia will wane almost completely and by then the people may have run out of alternatives, have no more trust in government and may take their (justified) frustration on the next administration.
 
Infrastructural development is good but if the system is not put into place to maintain or sustain those developments, we will be at square one again. While I will like the whole country electrified, but how long will the power last if we have no reliable means of collecting the light bills? What is the point if the power lines will be stolen and sold across the borders or the poles cut down for firewood? What they continue to tell you that you are doing magnificently great except that there is an information gap in reporting those successes is simply not true. People who often propagate this myth simply want to justify an overseas trip. Believe me, the old adage “only empty barrel will make so much noise” is still true. When it is there, we will see it and wouldn't need a power point presentation or town hall meeting to know.
 
We want to help especially in your last term when it is all clear that not much has changed system-wise but the same-ole, same-ole get-grab-and go; just tell us how. Some of the stories Dr. Zumo and others often tell from their experience trying to help can make me cringe. Why will your gate keepers not be open to improving the system? I have two sisters who in the span of less than two years died as a result of the poor healthcare system. My story is not unique. Other Liberians are crying the same cry. We cannot settle for the status quo. Something must be done and very urgently too! With all hands on deck and system thinking, let’s resolve to change course in order to solve these problems that just wouldn't go away.

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