Vice President Joseph Boakai has stressed the need for teachers’ incomes to improve in order to obtain the outcomes needed to take the education system from ‘mess to best.’
Veep Boakai was addressing the graduation in KAKATA of 320 teachers who are expected to form part of the Bridge Partnership School program in September.
“As you train the people you have to keep them in the classrooms and you do that by looking after them, providing quality places to live and better compensation,” VP Boakai told Bridge authorities attending the graduation program.
He added: “I always joke in cabinet and say sometimes we pretend to pay the people, the people pretend to work. But we should be able to work in both ways. We should improve their living condition by the quality of work they do, so that they too can be able to take care of their own problems. We know that this is one of the difficult parts but without quality and committed teachers you can’t have a country.”
According to him, without quality education, Liberia is unable to achieve her developmental agenda, noting that quality teachers play a major role in achieving such a vision.
“All us of know that without quality education you cannot build a nation, and without quality teachers, none of us will be here today,” he said.
For his part, Assistant Minister for Teacher Education, Adventus Wright, said the private partnership school is a new venture, which he said, will create anxiety.
“We know that this process has created a lot of anxiety, and I’m sure it will continue. The concept of private provider managing a few public schools is new so it will create anxiety, but we still need to give it a chance,” Wright said.
He called on the teachers to remain hopeful expecting that at the end of the process, students’ output will improve.
In spite of all the confidence and optimism building intended to persuade the teachers to take up the new challenge, a mini protest erupted from teachers who were dropped from the program. The teachers claim that Bridge promised to assign them to schools forming part of the program, but Bridge Partnership School says that the teachers were not dropped, rather on the standby listing.
One of the protesting teachers, Othello Marshall, expressed frustration with the program, stating that they were vetted before coming for the training and as such, no one should have been dropped.
“Out of 300 and some students on campus, less than 140 were selected to form part of the process, so what becomes of the other teachers”, asked Marshall.
He said most of the teachers protesting are worried about being out of work, and that they have abandoned their jobs with the hope of taking up their new assignment in September.
He said that if the education sector must change for the best, teachers are to be taken seriously.
Meanwhile, Bridge Partnership Schools for Liberia (BPSL) in collaboration with the Liberian government through the MOE has trained and certificated 320 teachers. Of the number, 80 of them are females.
The teachers, according to Joe K. Gbasakollie, will be assigned in the nursery and elementary levels in eight of the 15 counties. Mr. Gbasakollie is BPSL Deputy Country Director.
The first phase of the graduation ceremony was held in the auditorium of the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), and attended by Vice President Joseph Boakai and other personalities including those who trained the teachers.
Mr. Gbasakollie said the training was intended to upgrade the level of the teachers to new methods of teaching children involving the use of modern technologies that have been introduced in Bridge Partnership Classrooms.
The new ways of teaching, Mr. Ghasakollie said, is to manage and maintain good relationships with pupils, parents and their respective communities.
To accomplish that, Bridge will provide at least 1,000 e-readers to students, 800 computers for teachers and 100 smart phones brought into the country to advance the new ground-breaking teaching and learning atmosphere.
He added that additional textbooks, teachers’ guides and other instructional materials have arrived in the country to help improve the education system.
The training covered classroom management, promoting critical thinking, inquiry, encouraging and supporting girls using Bridge technology, focusing on pedagogy as well as behaviour management by working with communities to create strong and successful public schools.
In March this year, authorities at the MOE and Bridge International Academies signed an MOU to pilot Bridge’s academics programs to clean the mess from Liberia’s education system.
The partnership schools in Liberia are to support government’s agenda of taking the education system from ‘mess to best’ where the entity would want to build top and better public schools that will become powerful and perform at the highest level in any public exam.
Bridge International Academies Partnership Schools for Liberia is a Public Private Partnership (PPP) in education to rapidly improve literacy and numeracy outcomes for primary age and to improve the MOE’s ability to monitor school performances and assess learning outcomes at the primary level.
He said the schools under the PSL pilot will be free and will meet government standards. At the moment, Bridge is operating 23 schools in eight of the 15 counties under the partnership schools pilot initiative
The counties are Bomi, Bong, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, Montserrado, and Rivercess.
The pilot program is expected to dramatically improve outcomes of approximately 12,000 students at primary level.