Alfalit: 10 Years of Literacy Education in Liberia

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A humble beginning of Alfalit Literacy Program in Liberia in 2006 could have easily led anyone, except the farsighted, to overlook the revolutionary ability that has exploded in villages, towns and cities of Liberia in ten years. It confirms the idiom that says: “From small beginnings come great things”. In all honesty, every aspect of Alfalit Liberia started so small: its first office space was half bedroom size within the Education Department of the United Methodist Church. It could only pilot one literacy center in the Soul Clinic Community and later extended to West Point, Careysburg, and Firestone area among others. Alfalit started with one literacy center in one community, but in ten(10) years, there are 400 literacy centers established that had benefited more than 100,000 students facilitated by nearly 4000 teaching facilitators across Liberia.

Remarkably, Retired United Methodist Bishop, Rev. Dr. John Innis while in active service engaged the President of Alfalit International then, Reverend Roberto Perez in Washington DC in 2005 with an appeal to extend Alfalit program to Liberia, to help redeem Liberians from the social disease of illiteracy. In 2006, Rev. Perez and team visited with The United Methodist Church consenting to setup literacy program in Liberia. The United Methodists organized the first meeting, inviting other Christian leaders including Dr. Benjamin Lartay, former General Secretary of the Liberia Council of Churches. A Liberian United Methodist cleric about to take on reassignment in the United States unpremeditatedly accepted an invitation from Rev. Emmanuel Bowier who served the United Methodist Church as Education Director. Rev. Bowier led Rev. Emmanuel Giddings, who had no idea about Alfalit, to the meeting. As the team from Alfalit International presented to the gathering the work and achievements of Alfalit International in North America and elsewhere, Giddings’ passion for people’s empowerment arose. He imagined the link between supporting education for refugee children in Ghana and offering literacy to hundreds of Liberians in communities. An economically unreasonable task fell in the hands of Rev. Giddings. He reasoned within himself to let go the US offer and led a campaign meant to redeem Liberians from the stern of illiteracy. God uses people as instruments to accomplish His redemptive plan. Rev. Giddings dedicated himself to this task that has won for Liberia the biggest and most successful literacy institution with enviable profile in mixed cultural, religious and socioeconomic setting. Alfalit Literacy Program for ten years has been sustained through partnership with several organizations and individuals who believe in the cause of education as a vital empowerment tool for everyone. Some of these partnerships will be detailed in our subsequent reflections on the work and achievements of Alfalit Liberia.

The first support for Alfalit Literacy Program came from Jose Milton & Associates through its President and CEO, Dr. Joseph Milton, who served Alfalit International as vice President and has now ascended to the position of President for Alfalit International. A donation of Forty Thousand United States Dollars (US$40,000) planted the seed of literacy on Liberian soil as the first English program of Alfalit International. To date, Dr. Joseph Milton visits Liberia annually, except the Ebola outbreak in 2014 that prevented him from coming until 2016. Mr. Milton supports Liberia personally as his ‘second home’. He has proven extreme generosity to Liberia through Alfalit’s programs that have since gone beyond basic literacy. Other equally important partners and funding agencies like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), McCall McBain Foundation that funded the Southeast Literacy Project (SELP) in six rural and hard-to-reach counties of Liberia, the Sirleaf Market Women’s Fund, SEGAL Foundation among others have contributed immensely to the ten years of mass literacy education in Liberia. We are expected to separately treat the impact of each of the projects funded by Alfalit Liberia’s partners.

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