Barely a week following the release of a gloomy education picture across the country, with the worst being in the southeast, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said it has developed a system to decentralize the sector.
According to Minister George Werner, with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Liberia Teacher Training Program (LTTP), the educator management policy document was drafted with stakeholders’ input.
This policy, he said compiles relevant material from existing policy documents (e.g. the Education Reform Act of 2011, Education Administrative Regulations, Code of Conduct for Teachers and Administrators, and Standing Orders of the Civil Service) as well as proposes content for key elements that have not been spelled out in existing policy documents.
The policy focuses on three categories of educators including teachers, school administrators, and education officers.
“With respect to teachers and school administrators, the policy addresses the situations of those working in public and private institutions serving students in early childhood development/education (ECD/E), lower basic (primary) education, alternative basic education (including Accelerated Learning), upper basic (junior secondary) education, technical and vocation and training (TVET) and senior secondary education programs.”
Educator Management Policy, Minister Werner said, follows the framework proposed in United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO’s) International Task Force on Teachers for Education for All (2015) Teacher Policy Development Guide. The Policy Development Guide is grounded in the concept that qualified, supported, and motivated educators are key to the provision of high quality education for all learners.
Recently, the Southeast Women’s Development Association (SEWODA) presented a dismal but familiar report on the woeful lack of basic education facilities in southeastern Liberia.
Their report was followed by an urgent appeal to Minister Werner to take immediate measures to address the situation. They urged him to do this in keeping with the 2011 Education Act adopted by the Legislature and signed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
It that regard, the MOE, in its effort to improve the quality of learning in schools and create conducive learning environments across the country, has highlighted the distribution of one million new textbooks in public schools and the training of 8, 390 teachers and school administrators as a significant progress in the education reform exercise.
With a stack of heavily loaded documents which the MOE presented to the Daily Observer as an apparent response to SEWODA’s concerns, Minister Werner maintained that the MOE is committed to giving each student across the country the same access to textbooks and learning materials as part of its reform exercise.
The documents are entitled, “MOE Updates the Liberian Public: Improving Schooling and Remaining Accountable.”
“We have distributed one million textbooks for grades 5-9 in the four core subjects, including mathematics, Science, Social Studies and English. 1.3 million supplementary readers were also distributed for grades 1-4 and 20,000-teacher guides along with instructional materials, including Atlases, Maps, magnets and Globes,” Minister Werner said.
In additional to textbooks and instructional materials, he said teachers have been participating in training and professional development workshops, including Parent, Teacher Associations (PTA) and members of public and private institutions, who have also benefited from three weeks’ training focusing on teaching and psycho-social expertise.
Regarding school grants, he said through the Government of Liberia (GOL) and Global Partnership Education (GPE) arrangements, the MOE provided more than US$2 million to over 2,500 public schools with the aim of developing a more efficient and effective school-based management system in the country.
“Through this intervention, we are increasing community participation in school governance and increasing access, retention and completion at the Basic Education Level,” he noted.
To ensure the security of these books, Werner said the MOE is working with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to circumvent the books being sold on the market or other unexpected situations.
According to him, out of the 500 schools across the country that were identified for renovation and construction, works on 73 of those schools were completed by August of this year.
With that development, he assured that renovation and construction work will continue until the 500 schools are completed, adding that, by June next year, the MOE would have constructed 41 new schools across the country under the GOL/GPE Project.
Minister Werner explained further that some of the targets set by the ministry are yet to be achieved. These, he said involve the distribution of teaching and learning kits, which the MOE believes with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) still continuing, would be completed before the end of the year.
“We also await the GPE signing of a contract between Pearson Education and MOE for the procurement of secondary text books for grades 10, 11, and 12. The textbooks will be procured in the six major core subjects, including math, English, Economics, biology, physics and chemistry,” he disclosed.
He further said the source of this funding will come from the Ebola Emergency Response Fund, from the World Bank in the amount of US$ 3.2 million.