As students with extensive professional experience, the 16 members of the Executive Master’s of Public Administration program bring rich perspective on public service to the classroom at North Carolina Central University (NCCU).
A trip together to Monrovia, Liberia in West Africa for short-term placements in the Liberian Civil Service Agency is giving them an outstanding comparative look at international public administration.
The students were welcomed to Liberia and their internships by Dr. Puchu Leona Bernard, Director-General of the Civil Service Agency (CSA), and an alumna of North Carolina Central University.
In order to promote future cooperation between the United States of America and the Republic of Liberia, the two institutions: Civil Service Agency (CSA) and North Carolina Central University (NCCU) endeavor to cooperate in education and research in areas of mutual respect.
To the extent feasible, both institutions encourage direct contact and cooperation in facilitating and internship for the NCCU Executive Masters in Public Administration students at the Civil Service Agency.
We wholeheartedly welcome you to Liberia, especially our dynamic guests and students from NCCU. Let us interact and share notes on our experiences and various ministries and agencies we will be assigned. Hope that you will have a pleasant and fruitful stay in Liberia.
I must say that people in Liberia are generally friendly and hospitable, especially in the rural areas where at one time members of the American Peace Corps settled and easily learned the dialects spoken in those areas” Dr. Puchu Leona Bernard, Director General of the Civil Service Agency asserted.
According to Dr. Bernard, Liberia’s development steadily slowed after the burst in the 1960s when its rate of economic growth was second only to Japan and with a further setback in the 1990s due to the civil crisis.
The Civil Service Agency Boss, however said Liberia has made a comeback from complete anarchy, where every system of governance, rule of law, security, education, and healthcare and of course the civil service were severely affected with total disregard for the constitution and human rights.
This ended when all sides met and came to an agreement at the peace talks in Accra to put an end to the atrocities and begin to restructure and reform the army and police as a first step towards establishing security in the country.
New recruits underwent extensive training and new security laws were created and or amended to safeguard and reflect the current peaceful situation and to protect the rights of the people, especially women” Dr. Bernard asserted.
For his part, the Chair of the Department of Public Administration and facilitator of the partnership, Dr. Emmanuel Oritsejafor says, “the Public Administration program at NCCU uses this global experience to help students understand the practice and theory of public administration through a close partnership with leaders in the Liberian government.
In addition to North Carolina Central University alumna Dr. Bernard, we are very proud that Auditor General Yusador Saadatu Gaye is a graduate of our Executive Master’s of Public Administration program. The links between NCCU, the Government of Liberia, and global leadership strengthen values of public trust and service.”
Accompanied also by the Director of the Executive Master’s of Public Administration.
(EMPA) program Dr. Larrisha McGill-Youngblood and Assistant Professor Dr. Christopher Paul, the students arrived in Liberia on May 14th, were oriented to the city of Monrovia, and started their placements in nine different agencies and organizations, including the Ministries for Education, Finance, Health and Justice. Students are placed in offices related to their expertise.
“Given my experience in parent and a community engagement with the public schools including in Wake and Mecklenburg County Schools, the challenges and opportunities there is lots of best practices and exchange of perspective that I can bring back to North Carolina,” EMPA student Kian Furnace says.
Still, the conditions in Liberia are quite different from those in North Carolina. As Acting Director of Public Utilities for the City of Goldsboro, EMPA student Michael Wagner observes, “the need for water and sewer infrastructure in Liberia is extraordinary, and my partner agency is striving to deliver the critical services for health and safety.”
“Dr. Oritsejafor has built extensive partnerships over more than a decade in Liberia, and the strength of these relationship and the warmth of Liberian culture is clear in the way our partners welcome the students to their agencies and Liberia,” Paul observes.
“Coming to a post-disaster country has really been eye-opening for our group, with many lessons about public service, trust, and governance,” Dr. Youngblood recounts. “Our partners provide strong mentorship to our students in their placements.
The students and faculty return to North Carolina on May 25th and will develop reports to send back to their partners in Liberia. This is the sixth year students from the Public Administration program have visited Liberia.