Liberia: Literacy Education is the Key to National Development

From left: Mr. Orea Wright, Cuttington Vice President for Institutional Advancement; Ms, Barbara Kennedy, Assoc. Vice President for Academic Affairs; Dr. Rosemarie Santos, Assoc. Vice President for Research, Assessment and Faculty Development; Joseph Jay Yarsiah, and Tim Bowles

Applied Scholastics Liberia Teams with Cuttington University for Effective, Competency-Based Learning

While other broad social crises such as COVID may garner immediate attention, the endemic deterioration of educational standards and widespread illiteracy are the long-term, enduring perils of life in the region. 

To tackle this blunt reality and working from 16 years of successful human rights and literacy programs in West Africa, Liberian Joseph Yarsiah and American lawyer Tim Bowles have recently forwarded meetings with Cuttington University leadership an ambitious undertaking to improve learning effectiveness.

Yarsiah and Bowles started their collaborations in 2006, creating the African Human Rights Leadership Campaign. That initiative grew annually across Liberia, Ghana, and Sierra Leone, activating thousands of young people as human rights educators, teaching by example and deed. 

The devastation that Ebola (2014-2016) inflicted upon Liberia and the region shifted Yarsiah’s and Bowles’s attention. “Illiteracy clearly drove the broad sweep of that terrifying event.  Poor or non-existent education, itself a human rights violation, makes possible violations of the other 29  articles of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Yarsiah.

“We thus resolved in 2016 to seek partnership with Applied Scholastics International,” Bowles said. “The organization’s successes in several African countries and across the world clearly show its qualifications to solve illiteracy.  Applied Scholastics have done so by the confirmed effective learning methodology of American author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard is commonly referred to as ‘Study Technology.’  From personal experience in my 1970s law school studies and the tangible benefits of the methodology to our two daughters throughout their schooling, Study Technology clearly improves student conceptual understanding and competent application of any subject and at any level.  Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Applied Scholastics has enabled untold numbers of young people to realize the genuine joy of learning, the key to their life-long wellbeing and competent contributions to their communities.”

Thus by their African Literacy Campaign (ALC), Yarsiah and Bowles have worked over the past six years with local youth leaders and a series of accomplished American and South African educators to introduce Study Technology to Liberia’s ministries, policymakers, teachers and students.  ALC programs have included repeated teacher and student training in greater Monrovia, Kakata, and Tubmanburg;  ● three years of delivery (2017-2019) through AMEU Monrovia’s “Vacation Bridge” high school-college transition program;  and ● briefings to top government leaders and policymakers.  

“With the easing of COVID restrictions, it is time to return the campaign to its pre-2020 levels and accelerate from there,” remarked Yarsiah. 

Bowles added, “The pandemic’s individual isolation and societal fragmentation are behind us.  In our meetings this week with Cuttington University leadership and other stakeholders, we are creating the collaborations necessary to provide this urgently needed help to this remarkable country.”

Dr. Amanze Charles Ihedioha, Cuttington’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, agreed, ”Our university leadership is committed to bringing innovative approaches to education.  We are excited about our budding partnership with Applied Scholastics as one such avenue.”

Mr. Yarsiah was similarly positive.  “Those blessed with the tools and opportunity to improve societal conditions, particularly in the educational sector, have the responsibility to do so.  Our mission is to empower the greatest resource we have – our youth – with the means to achieve in their lifetimes what we have all dreamed, a nation again educated, economically dynamic, culturally vibrant, and at lasting peace.”