REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA
MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Debate Builds Tolerance and Increases Possibility of Maintaining Peaceful Co-Existence, Foreign Minister Ngafuan Averred
(MONROVIA, THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2014): Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan says debate is a valuable positive feature for any society as it builds tolerance and increases the possibility of maintaining peaceful-coexistence. Minister Ngafuan said the more people engage in debate, the more tolerant they become of opposing views and perspectives because they realize that what matters is not their physique or skin pigmentation or the depth of their pockets but the soundness and validity of their ideas and arguments.
“The person who quickly throws a blow or fires a gun in an argument or contentious situation is a person who quickly runs out of solid ideas and arguments that can debunk their opponents”. He said where a culture of debate exists people tend to “disagree agreeably”, reducing the possibility of violent confrontation and increasing the possibility of peaceful co-existence.
Speaking on the theme, “Building A Scholarly Character in the Liberian Student” the launch of the Inter-High School National Debate Competition on Thursday, May29, 2014 at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion, Minister Ngafuan said the family has a great responsibility in this process of building a scholarly character in Liberian students because the family is the individual’s first point of contact with his community.
“Parents must show a sense of appreciation for scholarly things in order to inspire in their children to the consciousness for scholarship. This does not necessarily mean that parents must have PHDS before they inspire their children who aspire to have PHDs”.
The Liberian Foreign Minister revealed that another way to promote scholarly attributes in students is by recognition of their academic excellence. He said recognizing students for academic excellence has a double barrel effect. Firstly, it encourages high performers to do better and motivates the low performers to buckle and put in their all.
“When we recognize our students we give them our approbation that what they are doing is desirable and in the best interest of themselves and our country; but when we act in an insensitive and indifferent manner to their achievements, we derail their self-confidence and de-motivate them” Minister Ngafuan told the cheering audience.
Minister Ngafuan emphasized that in this age of globalization and technological advancement, it is almost impossible to build a scholarly character in students if the media does not play a positive role. He revealed the media has a very critical role to execute in building a scholarly character in students because many of what students hear and read every day comes from the microphones and pens of journalists.
“The stories that journalists write and the stories that they read help to inform the thinking of students. Therefore journalists must be conscious of their critical role in society and never back pedal on professionalism. “The words or phrases commonly used by journalists on radio may sooner than later become the words and phrases used by many young people in their everyday conversations and the quality or standard of writing journalists employ in their newspapers will soon be adopted by many young people as the acceptable standard of writing”, the Liberian Foreign Minister told the gathering dominated by young students.
He profusely commended the new and vigorous team at the Ministry of Education for their far-sightedness and hard work in trying to rebrand the educational landscape of Liberia stating similar initiatives have been launched in the past, but they have faltered. Minister Ngafuan hoped and trusts that that the launch of the high school debate will not be the end of this endeavor. “I anticipate the expansion of this and related programs to even the smallest schools in the far flung areas of this country”.
The launch of the Inter-High School National Debate Competition was attended by an array of personalities including members of the diplomatic corps, officials of government, civil society, international NGOs among others.