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Character Education

L. Nyalley: Practicing Character Education

It is with great pleasure and high honor that I accept your invitation for me to attend this award ceremony for the students who have the completed training in character education by the Universal Peace Federation and give a talk. The theme of the ceremony is "Developing students to realize their potential through character education."

I tend to believe that character education is about teaching, learning, and practicing the principles, values, and beliefs that define a nation, a culture, and a people. It teaches us to distinguish between what is right or wrong and among what is acceptable, what should be rejected, and what is simply convenient. Moreover, it challenge us to achieve our ultimate potential, the best and highest we can do or be.

In the President’s Agenda for Change, the promotion of positive attitudinal change has a prominent position. It is my submission that attitudinal change is the daughter of character education. For instance,

  • Whenever we speak, we speak our character. When we dress up, we wear our character, and in whatever we do, we act our character.
  • William Shakespeare, in his infinite wisdom, told us that we can learn about a man’s or woman’s character by what he or she says or does — or does not say or do — and by what other people say about him or her that is true. So our character is what we do, say, do not do, do not say, and what other people say about us.

I did not come here today to teach. Rather, I came here to learn and share. Therefore, allow me to share my understanding with you.

Character education has both theoretical and practical approaches. Character education is theoretical when we just teach it, talk about it, preach about it, or write about it in institutions, schools, churches, mosques, radios, televisions, meetings, at home, at a work place, etc. Theoretical character education is in process when we tell other people what we want them to do and say or not to do or say. Theoretical character education is the best beginning. However, that alone is not good enough. We need more.

The practical approach not only teaches us how to say or do what we say or do daily, or don’t say or do, but it also shows us by living examples how, when, and where to do them. The practical approach is when we practice what we tell others in writing, teaching, and preaching what we want them to say or do, or what not to say or do. It not only teaches us about what constitutes corruption but also shows by example how to stay miles away from it. It teaches us to admit it when we are wrong and to learn and grow from it. It teaches us to treat all our fellow men and women with respect and dignity. It shows us by example how to recognize and practice honesty, justice, harmony, peace, collaboration, cooperation, and national unity. And it teaches us to appreciate and honor opinions, culture, traditions, and values that may be different but not out-right contrary to ours.

The theme of this ceremony is about developing students to realize their potential through character education. Positive attitudinal change is the daughter of character education. Our ultimate potential is the best and highest we can be or do. For one thing, positive attitudinal change is pregnant with other concepts, programs, and ideas. I have yet to see a pregnant son. Let me say this: To get to our ultimate potential through character education, we have to be able, willing, and ready to learn and practice how to peacefully live with, share with, and help others. We have to be able to avoid trouble and overcome challenges and obstacles where we may.

Character education teaches us how to have a dream, plan from the dream and be the best we can be. It teaches us how to build and sustain new vision, new horizon and core values. And it teaches us the differences between a manager who just manages and a leader who improvises to lead.

Why are we giving and receiving certificates and awards in character education? Once again, I am asking you because you have given or received the training and not I. But before you answer, let me guess:

These certificates and awards today and always mark you as an expert. This means you are to always control your anger and emotions, avoid violence, and promote peace, unity and harmony. In addition, always remain cool, calm and calculated under stress and pressure. Always equally distribute justice, injustice, advantages and disadvantages.

Your certificates and award today make you doctors of character education and positive attitudinal change. You have now perfected the concept of how to treat your fellow man;

You now know that even though smiling costs you less to give to those who need it the most, it pays more to those who receive it.

You now know the power of using words like: {1} Please, {2} I am sorry, {3} Thank you, {4} Excuse me, {5} Forgive me and {6} No to crime, drugs and violence.

From this training, it will be expected of us to be:

  • Non corrupt
  • Law abiding
  • Respectful
  • Peaceful
  • Hardworking
  • Progressive
  • Kind
  • Honest
  • Selfless
  • Humane
    Understanding and forgiving

The true test of these new certificates and awards on character education with new vision and core values will soon come when we encounter the real world outside of the classroom and when we are confronted with defeat, temptations, injustices, and disadvantages. It is always one thing to teach or promise to do something, but quite another to actually do it. It is my honest belief that when the true time comes, you will pass the tests with distinctions.

It is my hope and prayer that when we all work together for the greater and common good of Sierra Leone for a better tomorrow, and with God in our team, even the sky cannot be our limit. God bless our President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. God bless us all.

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