The Government and people of the United States of America have hugely and consistently supported the literacy work of Alfalit in Liberia for ten years. US support to Alfalit has been evidently channeled through literacy books, grants from USAID and motivation from the US Embassy on the ground in Liberia. In fact The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is a strategic and consistent partner of Alfalit International in its mission to work for the poorest in twenty four countries including Liberia.
Alfalit Liberia as the first English speaking literacy program of Alfalit International needed literacy material in simple English, usable by literacy students in Liberia. Through Alfalit International, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded the production and printing of all the English version of the literacy skill books, ranging from Book I to Book V used in these ten (10) years of literacy education. The gift from the government and people of the United States valued Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars in printed literacy books was presented to Alfalit Liberia in 2008 by President George W. Bush who was the first US President to visit Liberia after thirty(30) years. Copies of those skills books were printed and shipped to Liberia for the use of Alfalit Liberia. They books are in two layers: teacher’s guide and the student’s skills book per level. The approach is profoundly simple and teachable at the advantage of the facilitator (teacher).
In 2013, Alfalit advanced its learning opportunity to students who had completed the five basic literacy skill levels, but still have the urge to advance themselves. Learners (students) of such are qualified to enroll into the Basic Education Levels. Text books in local Liberian context were written and printed for students of this advanced stage. Thanks to Rev. Emmanuel Bowier who wrote three of those simplified text books: Liberian History, Geography and Civics.
Most importantly, USAID through Alfalit International funded the listed books in addition to English, Science and Math text books being used in the Basic Education Program of Alfalit Liberia.
The support from the Government and People of the United States to Alfalit still continued in those ten years (2006-2016). Grant from USAID funded five years of literacy work in Montserrado, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Lofa, Bomi, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Nimba Counties. This has been the biggest grant to Alfalit Liberia in these ten years. This makes USAID the highest supporter of Alfalit Liberia since its establishment. A total of forty thousand, eight hundred fifty two (40,852) students benefited from the USAID grant. It also provided temporary employment to 1500 facilitators/teachers.
Also the Government and People of the USA provided matching grant up to fifty thousand United States Dollars (US$50,000) to the Southeast Literacy Project of Alfalit Liberia 2011-2012. This supplementary grant helped funding from McCall MacBain Foundation to fund sixty-five(65) literacy centers in cities, towns and villages in six(6) counties in Liberia( Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, River Cess, River Gee, Maryland and Grand Kru) in two years (2011 & 2012).
In addition to funding opportunities, the US Embassy has been cooperative and participatory in the activities of Alfalit Liberia. The last participation is recorded in 2013 December when Ambassador Deborah Malac served as Guest Speaker for the joint graduation of all Alfalit literacy centers in Montserrado County. This program took place in the edifice of the Bethel Cathedral of Hope, accommodating around one thousand (1000) literacy students. Testimonies voiced out by students themselves regarding the transformational power of adult literacy made the occasion colorful.
Thrilled by a female student’s testimony, Ambassador Malac hailed Liberian women for leading their own destiny, by taking advantage of USAID funded educational projects like the youth and adult literacy program of Alfalit. She urged locals, especially women to seek education as an essential step to knowing their rights; therefore they would be empowered to advocate against rights violation. The Ambassador’s admonition tied into a personal testimony of one of the female students who identified culturally-rooted domestic violation she had suffered for years. The student assured the audience that she would not allow herself fall prey of gruesome domestic violence anymore without seeking redress.
Since the USAID project with Alfalit folded out more than a year ago, the gap in Alfalit student enrolment has dropped by over twenty-six thousand students and a huge reduction in literacy centers. Adult and youth literacy is folding out in communities when Liberia holds presidential and legislative elections one year from now. Adult literacy could have a rippling effect on more valid votes opposed to invalid votes. Literacy is an empowerment for voters to make decisions of their choice.
Alfalit celebrates ten (10) years in Liberia. Certainly the foundation is laid. Step forward is to continue and expand program coverage and quality in communities of Liberia. Reactivating all inactive literacy centers and seeking funding for new coverage can only be a matter of urgency, if literacy is meant for all in Liberia.
To the Government and People of the United States of America, you are in the cornerstone of Alfalit Liberia as a sponsor for efforts leading thousands “from darkness to light”. Thank you for the care and empowerment of Liberians. Congratulations to the USA!!