The Liberian Institute of Policy Studies and Research (LIPSR) at the University of Liberia (UL) in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has held a Management of School Transformations (MOST) workshop on Fendall Campus, Louisiana, as part of the implementation of Natural and Social Science Transformation at the university.

The three – day MOST Schools workshop held recently under the theme: “Youths, Peace and Security in West Africa,” is the first of its kind in West Africa.

According to UNESCO, MOST Schools program cooperates with national authorities, scientific communities and civil society to help the UN agency’s member states strengthen the connection between research and policy and between knowledge and action.

In opening remarks at the official launch of the program, Dr. Agnes Reeves-Taylor, Executive Director, Institute of Policy Studies and Research at the University of Liberia, said it is an honor for the university to host the very important event. She explained that in Africa, youths have been seen to be victims of conflict as well as in some cases, participants in conflicts, adding that the context is to begin to think about ways in which the youths of West Africa can be engaged to have an active mark in the development of policies.

The LIPSR Executive Director spoke of the need of developing young researchers who would then be able to come up with research-informed policies for implementation. “… I will say to you, begin to think of the issues that affect your region, your country, your continent that you come from. You as youths alone understand the challenges you face on a daily basis. Many times you would like to have your voices heard, but your voices have not always been listened to. This is an opportunity for you to come forward and make your voices heard through this medium,” she added.

Dr. Reeves – Taylor also urged the young people attending the workshop to come up with issues that concern them and discuss to understand them from their country and regional perspectives.

She said she is hopeful that from the issues that are raised at the workshop, research done further would be fed into a project that would then lead to the young people’s participation in decision – making for the region.

Performing the formal launch of the program, Mr. Seidi Stevenson, Head of UNESCO – Liberia, said all he is looking forward to is a very successful deliberation and results from the workshop. Mr. Stevenson referred to the youths as very paramount because they make up the greater portion of the population in Liberia.  

Also speaking, Ms. Nneka Okafor, Head of Sector, Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO Regional Office (Abuja), said the workshop was the “first of its kind” in West Africa and that UNESCO was delighted to be partnering with the University of Liberia to make it happen.

She explained that MOST Schools is an initiative of UNESCO designed with the aim [to enlarge] the tools of qualified young professionals from different backgrounds. Ms. Okafor said that the program targets young professionals who can help strengthen research policy and drive national governments to implement the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, the African Union Agenda 2063 and UNESCO Mission of Building Peace and Eradicating Poverty, Sustainable Development and Inter-Cultural Dialogue.
“I am positive that the outcome of MOST Schools in West Africa will fundamentally transform our cross-cutting engagement on Youths, Peace and Security across our region,” she concluded.

Dr. Jonathan Taylor, Vice President for Graduate Programs at the University of Liberia, described MOST Schools engagement as a very important meeting, thanking the Institute of Policy Studies, University of Liberia and UNESCO for coming together to organize the workshop. “For us at the University of Liberia, we consider it an honor to be able to host what I understand is the first of such meetings in West Africa. We want to thank you for considering the University and indeed, we look forward to many more partnerships; many more such collaborations between the University of Liberia, UNESCO and other partners,” he added.

The Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Liberia, Prof. Steve Jubwe, making remarks in proxy for Dr. Moses Zinnah, Vice President for Academic Affairs, congratulated Dr. Reeves – Taylor and UNESCO for the collaboration. He said all over the world, there are conflicts, and that’s why countries that are engulfed in conflicts are looking for peace.

Prof. Jubwe explained that the sources of conflict are predicated upon mankind’s insatiable need for power, wealth and security. He concluded that while posterity will judge the older generation, they may equally judge the youths for not listening to the older generation.