Nearly 300 Liberians have participated in the first-ever civic education symposium organized by the Swedish Institute Alumni Network of Liberia (SIANL), with a call on the network to sustain and expand the initiative.
Held under the theme “Reforming Democracy and Governance in Liberia: The Roles and Responsibilities of Citizens,”panelists at the symposium encouraged citizens to get active in the country’s democratic processes by informing and arming themselves with the Liberian Constitution.
The symposium, held at the YMCA in Monrovia, was attended by university and high school students and civil society actorswith strong interests in bettering democracy in Liberia.
Panelists claimed that the lack of knowledge of the country’s organic law remain a severe problem that threatens Liberia’sdemocracy. They indicated that reforming democracy and governance in Liberia would remain implausible unless the citizens knew and understood the constitution.
They advised the young generation of Liberia to “sacrifice” and become knowledgeable of the country’s Constitution which outlines their rights, roles, and responsibilities as dutiful citizens. This knowledge, they believe, would enable and empower citizens to make better and informed political decisions in electoral processes including the the 2023 general and presidential elections.
The network of the Swedish-trained scholars, with support from the Swedish Institute, undertook the initiative as their way of contributing to strengthening democratic ideals in Liberia and boosting the Swedish-Liberian relationship. The lack of teaching of the constitution in schools, the panelists maintained, has left many citizens blinded to their own roles, right and responsibilities.
Atty. Lamii Kpargoi of the Carter Center, Liberian broadcast Journalist Romeo Togba of ECOWAS Radio and Ms. AlphiaFaith Kemokai of Naymote Partners for Democratic Development’s Young Political Leadership School of Africaaddressed the morning session for high school students. The African Methodist Episcopal University’s Graduate School Dean Dr. Augustine Konneh, Institute for Constitutional Research Associate Director Atty. Kebeh F. Saryon and Mr. Prutus Sackie, Program Office for Private Sector Development at the Swedish Embassy near Monrovia, addressed the afternoon session for young professionals, teachers, and university students.
Both panelists and students at the Wednesday (June 22) symposium, lauded SIANL for organizing the event and craved more, including training trainers in schools and universities as a way of boosting civic education in the country.
The symposium is a kickoff to several initiatives that the Swedish Institute Alumni Network of Liberia intends to roll out to stay in touch with the Swedish Institute and give back to their country after studying abroad, according to the network’sPresident Sam Samie Sumo, the network’s President. Sumo emphasized the network’s commitment to promote especially the Swedish-Liberia partnership through Sustainable Development Goals.
“The symposium was mind-blowing, inspiring, and very informative for our participants and us,” Sumo said, while thanking the Swedish Institute for the invaluable support.