The Kids’ Educational Engagement Project (KEEP), a local NGO, was one of several stakeholders in Liberia commemorating the Day of the African Child last week Thursday, June 16. Featuring poignant history and engaging debate under the global theme, “Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights,” KEEP seems to have brought the J. L. Moore Public School in Gbengbar’s Town, Paynesville back out of a long intellectual hiatus.
KEEP started the observance with a screening of the movie “Sarafina” on June 15 in an effort to provide a visual depiction of what led to the uprising, and the African Union’s decision to commemorate the Day.
After the screening, the students participated in a parade close to campus, and then climaxed the Day with a debate on the global theme.
“This was very exciting for the school as this was the school’s first debate in more than 15 years and it proved to be quite exciting and educational,” KEEP said in a press statement.
In attendance at the program were the District’s Education Officer (DEO) Patrick Dortu, Emmanuel Toga, and the Assistant Town Chief for Gbengbar Town, where the school is located, the PTA Board Chair, Reverend Timothy Smith.
During the program, Madam Sarah Yardanmah, Principal of the school, welcomed everyone, noting that the Day was a happy one for her and the faculty of the school; and that it is through such activities that learning becomes holistic for the students. She also commended KEEP for the support.
In remarks, one of KEEP’s volunteers, Ransford R. Moore Sr., acknowledged the efforts of the students and encourage more girls to participate on the debate teams during future debates. He indicated that debate is an opportunity to see how students are able to analyze issues and discuss them in a civil manner, while at the same time helping their public speaking skills and grammar. Mr. Moore appreciated the school for being receptive to programs that go beyond the classroom learning experience.
Emmanuel Toga commended the organization for the awareness for the students, and asked the Ministry of Education to please look into extending the school to a senior high level, as many of their children have to go far away to other communities after completing 9th grade. He asked the government to look into sending more support to the school.
In response, DEO Dortu commended the effort of the students for preparing so quickly, and also encouraged more girls to participate in the debate and other school activities, and not to allow only the boys to dominate. He also commended KEEP for supporting such educational activities and pledged his support to similar activities in the future.
Mr. Dortu said that the request by the community goes back to them, adding that they need to provide land; asking if government wanted to extend the school, where would it be construct. He said talks had taken place in the past about extending the school, “but these are some of the issues that need to be looked into.”
The Day of the African Child is celebrated across Liberia and the world each year on June 16. This Day has been set aside by the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union, to be observed across Africa in remembrance of the thousands of school children murdered by the then Apartheid government in South Africa as they protested their right to be educated in their own language and protesting the poor quality of their education. The Union also saw this as a good way of raising awareness on the need for improving the education provided to children across Africa.
Since 1991, by adopting this day as the Day of the African Child, the African Union has drawn attention to the plight, not only of children in South Africa, but also to the plight of children across Africa in an effort to ramp up calls for more attention to be given to issues pertaining to the well-being of children. KEEP is a local non-profit organization that supports educational activities in Liberia. KEEP runs a blog at www.keepliberia.com and can be reached via phone at 0886510731 if you would like to support their work in anyway.