The Vice President for Academic Affairs at the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU), Dr. Katurah York Cooper, has advocated that the Liberian government must reform the education system to be on par with its regional neighbors.
The veteran educator and promoter of women and girls’ education said that it is now clear that the country’s education system is headed on a more disastrous path and if measures are not put in place as swiftly as possible to mitigate the situation it would not be good for the development of the country.
The Liberian education system, which is a mess, according to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is at a worse state especially in terms of students’ poor performance during public examinations.
Dr. Cooper indicated that if the situation persists, the foundation that students have had down the line would deteriorate.
Speaking at the formal opening of two degree granting programs that AMEU is starting next year, Dr. Cooper said it is high time the situation was tackled from the roots, early childhood education.
“This is where it all starts from and we must begin the fix from there,” she said.
The prolific and outstanding teacher and preacher called for the complete overhaul of the education system, noting that the messy system cannot be fixed from the top, and this must include the universities, high and junior high schools.
“It needs to be fixed from the starting point, which is by strengthening early childhood education in the country,” she said.
Dr. Cooper said the task to revamp the system cannot be done by the Liberian government and its partners alone, “but by all stakeholders in the sector and these include parents, administrators and owners.”
“We really need good foundations, well trained teachers for early childhood development to include pre-school, kindergarten and all those of the same age group.
“There is a way in which children of that age learn. They learn differently than the elementary and other stages. Let us not forget this is where it all starts and where kids are well prepared.
“This is where their interest in education starts from, especially when the teacher has a very good, positive influence on them. Their interest in education will grow and they will create love for the classroom,” the AMEU administrator said.
She noted, “Until we start to pay more attention to Early Childhood Education, this situation will continue to persist. We need to train more Early Childhood instructors to prepare our children for a better future. When our children get a solid background from down the line they wouldn’t be buying grades. The children will love to study, unlike what is happening now.”
Meanwhile, to ensure that quality instructors are trained for ECE in the country, AMEU, as of August this year will begin to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education (ECE). The institution will also offer bachelor degrees in Christian family counseling.
Dr. Cooper was the head of the Science Department at the Monrovia College & Industrial Training School. She served as Dean at the John R. Bryant Theological Seminary at AMEU. Her mother, Dr. Louise C. York, was also a veteran educator and served as former president of Monrovia College and the AME University.