Education Minister Receives Huge Criticisms for Saying Acquiring Education Is ‘Tabata’

Liberia’s Education Minister, George Werner

Huge criticisms continue to come from all sector of the Liberian society regarding recent comments made by the Country Minister of Education, George Werner on his Facebook wall denigrating the August 17 presidential debate and condemning the necessity of intellectualism in governing, making specific reference of the Liberian Educational system.

Some Liberians who spoke to the GNN made specific reference of Minister Werner’s Facebook Post, noting that his post on the social media network warrant his immediate dismissal as a Minister of education to say that the issue of acquiring education is ‘Tabata’, meaning nonsense in the Kru dialect.

The cross section of Liberians who spoke to our staff, condemned the Minister’s statement against the country educational system, noting that since he has agreed that acquiring education in Liberia is a ‘nonsense’ meaning in his own words, ‘Tabata’  he should step down as Education Minister.

Minister Werner in his Facebook comments put forward a number of questions, and at the same time justifying his reasons for degenerating education by saying: “What’s the purpose of political debates in Liberia, and who are the debates for?

Where’s the evidence that a candidate became president in Liberia because s/he was a great debater?

Let those who manage the candidates advise them to campaign to their strengths. Don’t debate if it isn’t your strength.

There are many other ways to articulate your platform or vision for the country.

The debates could be a setup by the meritocratic elite (for the elite) to show how educated and knowledgeable they are.

It’s been an essential part of Liberian history, of exclusion even, to eliminate the perceived uneducated through “book” talk.

Read between the lines and see the edited videos of Weah’s speeches on social media.

Da book talk we’ll eat? For those who are surprised by this post, I haven’t changed my views since 2004.”

For Werner, many politicians flex their intellectualism to roll up lies to the ordinary people who have limited education.

He went on to write: “They like hiding behind books to lie to the people.”

How does a debate, an intellectual exercise, help you to “live Liberia, think Liberia, and love Liberia”? By the way, who won the debates in 2005 and 2011? Where are they now?”

He continued: “To the book people, education does not promote equality and shared prosperity. Education alone is not enough to make anyone a “good” leader.”

The suggestion that all must participate in debates to justify their quest for leadership and their ‘educatedness” is tabata (origin in Kru, anything that does not make sense), to say the least.

How about meeting voters in the palava huts, under the trees, in their communities and homes.

“By the way, don’t use the schools and break the desks and chairs. Advice to all candidates: campaign to your strengths. Don’t follow the meritocratic elites’ intellectual stagecraft. They set it up to their advantage with their unscrupulous recorders and editors.”

As a result this statement has on the Liberian educational system, the Liberian Senate summoned him to appear before that august body last Thursday to give reason why he should not be held in contempt.

His appearance angered many of the Senators including Montserrado County Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff who raised concerns over the Minister’s demeaning comments on social media against education. Senator Sheriff called on her colleagues in the Senate to declare him a vote of no confidence for his comments made against the country’s educational system.

Eleven of the 16 senators voted in favour of the motion to pass a vote of no confidence in the Education Minister, but a motion for reconsideration from Senator George Tengbeh of Lofa County stalled the process of informing the President of their decision.

A motion for reconsideration is a privileged motion given to every senator to convince his colleagues within three working days to reconsider their decision.

Appearing before the Senate’s plenary with his legal counsel, Monbutu Nyepan, former Senator of Sinoe County, the minister appeared adamant, showing no remorse for his post as he continued to defend his action.

Asked what was definition for “Tabata”, “That book we will eat?” he said, “You don’t need book to put food on your table and tabata in the Kru dialect means ‘nonsense’”. According to him, he used those expressions in the post on social media to describe the political debate.

In few comments, Senators including Conmany Wesseh (UP-River Gee County), Joseph Nangbe (NDPL-Sinoe County) and Albert Chie (INDP-Grand Kru County) pleaded with the colleagues in the Senate to consider the minister’s comments as error and asked the minister to apologize, but the minister in a defensive mood refused those suggestions claiming that he needed time to contemplate whether or not he must apologize.

“I have been a teacher and have taught students how to argue their thoughts; book smart is not enough to develop in life, it is not enough to put food on your table. My post on Facebook didn’t diminish education,” Werner insisted.

Senator Peter Coleman (CDC-Grand Kru County) informed his colleagues during the hearing that he had a similar encounter with the Minister Werner who took to Facebook to release invectives against him after he raised issues about the state of education in Grand Kru County.

Senator Coleman asked for pardon for Minister Werner, but Senator Joseph Nagbe observed that the current group of cabinet ministers do a lot of wrongs and easily get away with them.

Senator Nagbe said, “As Minister of Education, you have no personal view on national issues, bulk of our officials don’t understand government; education should be one’s personality to make you a good citizen. They don’t have character that is why we have a lot of stealing in Government,” Nagbe said.

For Senator Morris Saytumah (UP-Bomi County), if he had his way, he would have dismissed Minister Werner. Alas, the power lies only with the President.


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About Cholo Brooks 17213 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.