Akon will be in Liberia today, according to a release from Bridge, and many are hoping that his visit will not only shine more light to the fact that the Liberian government is doing everything to help the educational system, but will also connect Liberia with what Akon has been cooking, known as “Akon Lighting Africa.”
Indeed, parts of Liberia are completely dark and due to the criminal activities of many who have been illegally stealing LEC current, causing the loss of thousands of dollars in revenue, some who have electricity illegally have watched their ‘hookups’ being disconnected.
I recently visited Hill Town, Bomi County, where a not-for-profit organization called More Than Me has one of its six schools given to them by Bridge. The school has about 122 plus girls and 179 plus boys (the number has risen since this article was written). One thing that struck me about the school was the fact that it had a lot of infrastructure problems – no chairs or desks, ceilings and smiling faces. More Than Me has spent more than US$5,000 to renovate it and so far there is a huge difference.
More Than Me has 12 capacity leaders for their seven schools, two per school. The role of these individuals is to build the capacity of teachers, train on site, improve learning and to watch over their teachers.
Recently during my tour at Hill Town elementary, I met Aiessate Cooper, the only girl child in the 6th grade. According to her father, who is also the principal of the school, his daughter was brought to the school when it was clear that More Than Me would be taking over the school.
Meanwhile, the environment is not safe for the children without light. Some students arrive on campus as soon as ‘day break,’ when the sun is just setting, having walked for miles.
Light is essential and also a security measure in preventing things that can only happen when it is dark from reaching pupils who arrive at school that early. Villages like Hill Town and the only school there that teaches students from ABC to the 6th grade are keeping their fingers crossed that Akon’s project will reach them.
As of now, More Than Me supplies its school electricity using a generator that drains its resources. And due to bad road conditions and distance, sometimes the school is unable to get items necessary for its operations.
Meanwhile, the new initiative “Light to learn” will be bringing Akon to Liberia as a guest of Bridge Partnership Schools, the Ministry of Education and other partners to initiate this new project aimed at popularizing and growing the right to use affordable energy resources to foster quality learning even in remote villages.
“Join us on October 20-21 at J W Pearson, Monrovia; and Zuluyee, Nimba County. All 24 Bridge Partnership Schools have been preparing to compete in Regional and National competitions where the top 4 finalists will compete as the STAR of the show! Who will the 2 winners be,” Gboko Stewart posted on facebook.