The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Why All This Degree Noise?

By Gideon Nma Scott, Jr.
From my childhood till now, I have heard in many quarters of our country that the work of a lawmaker is one that is delicate and requires people who are committed to help direct the course of the country. But as delicate as that job is, there is no academic requirement attached to assume such post. A simple majority can land you in the Capitol Building for at least six years, and what happens afterwards would depend on your performance on the job.
And for sure, the 1986 Constitution of Liberia validates that citizens of Liberia who meet the following qualifications are eligible to become members of the Legislature:
Article 30 (a) states that “For the Senate, must have attained the age of 30 years and for the House of Representatives, must have attained the age of 25 years.”
With this constitutional provision, many of those Senators sitting on various committees to interview presidential nominees are not qualified, and to say the least have any credential to interact with some of the nominees.
For the sake of the argument, I have not read any line or paragraph that requests academic credentials for one to be appointed to a certain task. But, if we were to look at the face value for requirement for one to perform in a particular portfolio, apart from Amara Konneh, Richard Nagbe Koon, and few guys on Capitol Hill, which of the Senators do you think was equally or more qualified to have interviewed Boima Kamara?
So, why are we cracking all these kernels over credentials versus competence?
According to international human resource management policy, for one to be accepted for a post, he/she has to have either or both competence and value at an appreciable understanding.
For competence, the employer seeks to know from you, the wealth of knowledge you have on the job, how long you have served in the same capacity, what some challenges you faced were, and the method you used to mitigate those issues. Your credentials usually compliment your experience because some employers are interested in how you can translate your experience theoretically. But if you can match your experience with academics, it would be an added advantage to your credit.
This is why, in job adverts, the HR officer asks for academics and many years of experience on the job. For example, a media would seek to employ a person with a Bachelor in Communication and at least five years of experience in news content gathering and reporting. So, a candidate with a high school diploma might have ten years of experience as per the requirement, and the institution would rather employ the high school dude with ten years’ experience and encourage that she/he pursue advanced studies.
So, I am yet to understand why all this degree holder nonsense is running in the corridor of our professional space, when some people without degrees have performed better than many of our less busy guys with their degree search, or is it something they want to say or do; or is it that the person in question is of another gender other than they?
Just to let you know that in this country, there are people who are qualified by experience (QBE), who have performed exceedingly over some of those carrying a bunch of empty papers in the name of degrees.
Will you say Tamba Taylor underperformed as head of the Council of State when he presided over the country in the midst of the war? Or will you say that chief Zanzan Karwor has underperformed as head of the Traditional Council? It depends on the bar the degree searchers would want to set.
So, like one of my former UNMIL colleagues from Uganda said to me, “Liberians are a different species of unserious people sharing the planet with other serious-minded individuals,” something I took as an insult, but now I’m trying to appreciate my friend, Matthew Mbeszi, for his comments as I reflect on one of my poems;
“O yes, I am a Liberian,
And so happy I am;
I say this with great pride,
Than the man in the white suit;
Yes! Yes, I am a Liberian,
Though I do not have a pair of shoes.
These lines reminded me that as Liberian, we have to stand tall in fighting those obstacles, including people who will want to impose themselves and egos on us.
Without degrees, many of our compatriots are climbing the professional ladders in bigger sub-regional and world organizations like the AU, UN, EU, Right to Play, and are serving pretty well. So, why all this degree noise?
*The thought of the son of a professional Kru woman.

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