Liberia: Helping Hands Network Makes Teaching Physics Fun

All of the participants receive certificate for their participation in the workshop

-Conducts Refresher Workshop for 30 High Sch. Teachers

The local non-governmental organization (NGO), Helping Hands Network (2HNET), has concluded a teachers’ refresher workshop, which was intended to improve the participants’ subject-based skills so that they are able to exercise competence in their classrooms.

The workshop, which spanned two weeks, was conducted for 30 teachers who had come from different high schools across Montserrado County. All of the teachers are men who teach Physics at their various high schools.

Mr. Wolobah B. Salee, one of the local facilitators of the workshop, who because of his love for Physics, has been involved with taking the subject to communities.

Salee, who has separate degrees, from the University of Liberia, in both Physics and Mathematics, said his aim is to make teaching and learning Physics a fun for both high school teachers and their students.

The workshop lecturer, who also teaches Physics and Mathematics to students at the University of Liberia, said he has the passion to teach science because he believes that “Science is the only way out for development.”

He said he got motivated to take science to the communities, when he encountered outsiders who had to come to Liberia to teach Liberians on the importance of the sciences.

“Science has never been well taught in Liberia because most of the schools don’t have laboratories; some don’t have specialized professionals. But we are going to get there one day. The University of Liberia is the only university that trains physicists.”

He further said teaching physics and other sciences is challenging but can also be fun. He is driven by his passion to leave the university to come back to the communities to make Physics simple using local materials that are easily obtained.

Giving his own assessment of the teachers, Salee stated that they were quick to grasp what he presented to them as he used local materials that they could find and see every day.

“My objective is how you can teach science with or without the sophisticated laboratory equipment from manufacturers. Because they (teachers/students) believe that lab equipment should only be from those manufacturers. I told them ‘no’; science can be taught using their local materials.”

According to him, some of the every-day things that they used for experiments during the workshop included flashlights, mirrors, ropes, etc.

He hoped that following the seminar, teachers’ presentations of the subject would now improve and that they would make teaching and learning Physics fun.

One of the beneficiaries, Ghando B. Kromah, a Physics instructor at the Lebanese-own Cedar School in the diplomatic enclave of Mamba Point, said, “To be honest, I have been teaching the subject for over a decade but when it comes to the practical aspect, we have been out. This workshop has made me and others to understand some of the basic things about optics, length measurements, etc. I have taught Hook’s Law, but this workshop really made me understand its simple practicality.”

Kromah also said the workshop further opened his understanding of oscillation of objects, including pendulum shifting, etc.

Speaking about the workshop, Mr. J. Wilfred Zeon, Founder and Country Program Manager of the Helping Hands Network (2HNET), firstly said that 2HNET was set up in 2012, as a result of the challenges that are associated with the education system in Liberia.

“Every year we conduct what we call teachers’ refresher workshop. For this workshop, we picked science and mathematics instructors. Through collaboration with the University of Liberia and the Ministry of Education, the teachers were selected from both private and public schools,” Zeon said.

He disclosed that some of the trainings’ facilitators are brought in from outside Liberia to be blended with a few Liberian lecturers. According to Zeon, from outside Liberia, most of the facilitators come from Germany and other parts of the world.

The visiting facilitator for this 2023 edition of the refresher lecture series, Dr. Fabian Ruf, an Optic Specialist and Researcher, came from Germany. Over the two weeks that Dr. Ruf stayed in Liberia, he also conducted a refresher workshop for physics students at the University of Liberia. He is also working with the students and the Department of Physics at the University to set up the Liberia Chapter of Optical; an international organization that promotes optics and physics education.

Zeon used the occasion to thank all of their funders, who believe in the works that 2HNET does. He specifically thanked SPIE, which is an Optic Researcher Organization, for funding this year’s edition of the refresher workshop.

“Our vision is to continue to conduct these workshops because the teachers and the schools that we work with appreciate what we do.”

To further help enhance the capacity of teachers and their classrooms, 2HNET has constructed a teachers’ resource center, which is a “digitized academy” to help Liberian teachers interact with expert lecturers in their subject areas. “Our goal is to equip this space with technology and make it a one-stop center for teachers' continuous education in Liberia.

“So, we have people/experts from around the world signing up for sessions to conduct lectures for Liberian teachers. Maybe over the next few weeks, if we have a facilitator, who is an English major; we will look into our teachers’ database provided by the Ministry of Education, to select English teachers to attend such a workshop,” 2HNET Founder said.

Zeon then thanked the Education Ministry, the Department of Physics and Mathematics of the University of Liberia, and Dr. Tilman Hartwig, who along with him, set up 2HNET back in 2012.

ceremony, said he hoped the teachers would use the knowledge they gained from the training to inspire students and make teaching physics fun. The teachers were awarded certificate of participation and a “take home package” that included locally-made teaching and learning aids to be used in their respective schools.