A Liberian philanthropic organization based in the United States, Help Encourage Liberia’s Little Ones (HELLO) has turned over 40,000 pieces of textbooks of various subjects to sixteen schools in Monrovia and other parts of the country.
The books according the Executive Director of HELLO, Ebenezer K. Flomo, comprise Language Art, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Medical texts, and World History, amongst others.
There are also college level subjects including Accounting, Business Management, and Information Technology among the books to help at that level of higher education.
The books are coming amidst an absence of textbooks in schools across the country; conditions that make it difficult for teachers to present the required lesson and for students to have access to necessary information that will help them do their assignments.
Mr. Flomo giving the overview of the motivating factor that led to bringing these books said, “We came here last year and told people that we have some books for them and asked whether they have libraries and what specific texts they need. A lot of the schools did not have libraries and they were the ones that needed the books most. Moreover, everyone expressed willingness to have books of all subjects because they did not have any.”
Besides this concern, Mr. Flomo noted that as a former student of the Lutheran Training Institute in Lofa County and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion University in Monrovia, he is aware of the deficiency of textbooks in Liberia after war, and predicated upon this existing phenomenon he and his wife were engaged in collecting books that schools were turning over in the United States to bring to help Liberian schools.
Furthermore, he said information that emanated from the University of Liberia last year about 24,000 candidates failing in entrance examination was disturbing and disgraceful news for all Liberians around the world, and as such they at HELLO see it expedient to help by seeking and providing textbooks that students in Liberia can read and be on par with students of other countries.
He stressed that they will ensure to follow schools benefitting from the gesture to use the books for students and not to be sold under the old Ministry of Education building on Broad Street as the case is most of the time.
He also presumed that if any school charges fees for using the books the fee should be directed to improvement of library and not to use whatever is collected for other administrative purposes.
Although schools benefitting are not paying for the books, he said even schools in the United States from where they bring the books can charge students who damage them, and similar action could be taken to maintain them.
To ensure that students are making use of the books, Mr. Flomo said they will visit all schools receiving the books to interview students as to how they are using the books and what difference is being made in their academic life after reading or studying them.
Regarding validity of the books, Mr. Flomo stressed that they are recently published books that have lasted for not less than five years.
According to him, schools in the United States and other developed countries clear their libraries after every five years to bring in new books so as to enable the business of book publications to run, and this does not mean the books are outdated.
“The books are useful and it is the same information everywhere in the world. Clearing them out is only meant to keep the business of books publication running so that writers will not go out of business, but that’s the same information about any career highlighted in that text,” he said.
He assured that there are more textbooks that they are willing to bring to Liberia, but are waiting to see the new curriculum so that the books will be in conformity with information needed in the curriculum.
Mr. Flomo commenting on this issue indicated that though they have a few texts about Africa, there is still a need to read about other continents and countries out of Africa so that they (Africans) can learn how those countries and continents developed the way they are.
Meanwhile some of the schools receiving the books are the Calvary Baptist Church School System, the Monrovia Consolidated School System, the A.M.E. Zion University College, the International Institute for Information Technology Liberia, the Phebe Nursing School, the Lutheran Training Institute, Lofa Community College, Lofa University Students Association, amongst others.
A representative of one of the school systems, Terance King lauded Mr. Flomo and his American Fiancée who initiated the project through their organization HELLO, and indicated that if other Liberians in the Diaspora can join the Flomo family to do such, Liberia will see a major transition in the debilitating education sector.
HELLO was founded in 1993 and had been involved in bringing relief items including clothes, toys, and other needed materials for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in displaced camps during the war years.