Education Joint Sector Review Gets Underway in Buchanan

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Authorities at the Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday began the 2015 joint Education Sector Review (JESR) in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County under the theme, “Quality Education For All: Reviewing Progress Against Operational Plan (2014-2016).

The JESR is a collaborative process involving all education stakeholders who are expected to assess the Ministry’s first year progress of its three-year Operational Plan.

For those education officials at the county level including the the county school board as well as county education officers and those at the district level, yesterday’s process began in 2011 with the formation of the County Technical Working Groups (TWGs). Included are county education staff, county education development partners, civil society organizations and community members.

Their task was to work across six specific areas such as Early Childhood, Basic and Secondary and Teacher Education. Other areas in the scope of County TWGs are Tertiary or Higher Education, Technical and Vocational Education Training as well as Governance and Management.

The six working groups were to conduct assessments against the three principal goals of the Operational Plan that include access and retention, quality of education and governance and management. The focus was “Strengthening of the County Education Systems.”

The objectives of day one of the five-day exercise focused on county education perspective, soliciting recommendations and solidifying actions to strengthen county education systems (CES).

Yesterday’s opening ceremony was attended by the county Superintendent, Etweeda Cooper and Senator Jonathan Kaipay, among other stakeholders.

The two county officials wholeheartedly welcomed the participants and their partners and assured them of the county Administration’s full cooperation during the five-day deliberations.

The exercise which began yesterday ends Friday July 17.

Deputy Education Minister, now Acting Minister, Aagon F. Tingba, called on the partners and participants to remain, fully participate and listen to the various facilitators presenting their respective topics for interactions.

“As we gather in Buchanan for the five-day JESR, let us be reminded that our education sector and accompanying curriculum should not be aimed at coercing students (to) search for answers to fundamental social problems,” Minister Tingba declared.

He identified some of the social problems as war and peace, wealth and poverty, racial, ethnic and religious divide.

Moreover, he added, “Our education sector—and curriculum alike—must encourage students to ask the big questions of right and wrong.”

According to Minister Tingba, since the George Werner led administration took over in early June, he and his team in their first two weeks raised the ongoing debate of education reform in the country.

“And from all accounts, all seem to agree on a point that has to do with our education system (being) in a mess and needing urgent reform.”

He said the restless spirit of education reform stalks the sector’s landscape in the country to the extent that it is conjured up from the cries of battle-weary teachers, from parents whose children are not learning, from business people worried about their future workforce, to legislators alarmed at the growth of an economic underclass.

Minister Tingba informed the participants that Minister Werner has observed upon taking office that if the education officials and partners do not confront the challenges, the country’s next generation will be far, far less educated than the current one, and ill-prepared to lead the country.”

He noted that there is no security risk confronting the country than an ill-prepared generation of leaders and youthful population.

He assured participants and partners that the MOE is committed to the process of reform and decentralization, “because the new Administration’s focus is to improve the quality of learning and create a learning environment that will be conducive for all students and teachers in our education system.”

To achieve the reform objectives, Minister Tingba disclosed that the MOE has outlined a number of activities for the improvement of the country’s education system as we jointly move from what has now been coined as “mess” to “best.”

He said the MOE is emphasizing the provision of textbooks to all students in the public schools as well as renovating the 500 most dilapidated schools—258 schools in the first phase, and 242 to be included in the second phase.

Other reforms which will take center stage are providing training to support teachers, recruiting over 435 science teachers to staff over 101 public high schools across the country in Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology and Physics and providing new learning resources for schools.

He said the MOE has listed nine priority projects with an estimated cost of over US$200 million.

Minister Tingba then challenged the conference attendants to contemplate “making big, audacious and ambitious progress over the next two years by building an equitable system where children’s chances for education are not determined by the ability of their parents to pay for their schooling.”

In their remarks CEOs stressed the need to decentralize the education sector where incentives for rural assigned teachers would be commensurate with their qualification and their respective scope of work.

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