A new ambitious initiative aimed at developing students’ abilities and values needed for active citizenship, respect for human rights and intercultural understanding has been launched by Kids Educational Engagement Project (KEEP) and Oxfam.
The new initiative, launched on Friday, March 6, 2020 in Monrovia, titled, ‘Transformative Education’, brings about transformative teaching/learning process—which leads learners to reflect upon and re-evaluate their former beliefs and experiences.
“It is done by promoting democratic educational environments, including democratic relationships between learners and educators, democratic management structures and the participation of parents and local communities in education,” said Loupu G. Blackie, Oxfam’s Gender Justice Program Manager. “If new values and ways of thinking and behaving are a result of reflection and re-evaluation, they must be embedded in the broader context too.”
Mrs. Blackie said from Oxfam’s point of view, education is never neutral but is a powerful political instrument to create either exclusion and oppression, or positive change, such as increased equality, peace and democracy. Therefore, transformative education is a central concept in Oxfam education for change strategy, which is about integrating the values and attitudes of learners to unlock their transformational power.
The pilot program for the project, according to Mrs Blackie, has begun in five schools in Montserrado County including the June L. Moore, Goba Town, Bahr Town, Arthington and Millsburg public schools.
“Through transformative education, Oxfam aims to develop abilities and values needed for active citizenship, peace, democracy, gender equality, respect for human rights and intercultural understanding. It also promotes learners’ academic and practical skills, life skills and different technical/vocational skills in order to prepare them for the world of work,” Mrs. Blackie said.
“Besides, it is of great importance that all learners are included and respected equally, both by the educator and by other learners. Oxfam would love to see that school management and educators are ensuring that all learners have the same opportunities to participate and learn,” said Mrs. Blackie.
Mrs Blackie commended KEEP for agreeing to pilot such an important initiative in a few schools in Montserrado County, and the Ministry of Education for trusting KEEP and giving the organization the approval to pilot the first phase of transformative education in Liberia.
“Mutual respect should be addressed also in the content of teaching and should include discussing gender roles and how to avoid gender stereotyping,” she said.
Mrs. Blackie said in November in 2016 in Copenhagen, a meeting convened by Oxfam constituted an “Education Community of Practice and Influence” agreed that “Strengthening Transformative public education for all to fight inequality is the overall goal of Oxfam future education work.
And therefore, achieving this goal, including to have a straight re-distributive impact ‘virtual income’ into the pocket of poor and marginalized people-particularly concerning girls and women; enhance social mobility as well as strong political mobilization.
Desmond Samuels, Programs Coordinator for Kids Educational Engagement Project (KEEP) said the transformative education is intended to transition the student from old-age learning to modern-day education and the transitioned of a teacher from old ways of teaching to new methods.
“KEEP has hired a consultant to teach its staff and teachers in order to understand what transformative education is and how it can be rolled out in the schools. The consultant was given a task to develop a teacher training manual, which was validated by the NGO Forum,” Mr. Samuels said.
Mr. Samuels said during the validation exercise, members of the NGO Forum and civil society organizations made a commitment to incorporate transformative education into their work and homes, as the issue of transformative education is not only meant for school but can be applied anywhere.”
He said they have formed a cluster of proficiency that include members of the NGO Forum and CSOs and the program have trained 50 teachers in the five selected schools.
KEEP is a local charity that is primarily dedicated to promoting a culture of reading in Liberia. The organization has established 15 reading rooms in 7 of Liberia’s 15 counties and has announced that it intends to establish an additional six rooms this year, in Maryland, Nimba and Bong Counties.