Authorities of the Ministry of Education (MoE) on Friday, July 19, 2019 extolled the education-focused international NGO, Bridge International Academies (BIA) for being supportive to the sector of Liberia over the years.
MoE’s communications director, J. Maxim Bleetan, who proxied for for Bong County Education Officer, Armah Varfee as guest speaker, made the statement at the K-II and sixth grade graduation ceremonies of the Sanoyea Elementary Public School; one of the schools sponsored by Bridge in Bong County.
Bleetan said over the years, BIA has contributed immensely toward the improvement of education in the country.
On the topic, “Taking the Mess out to Get the Best,” Bleetan said BIA has helped to improve the reading skills of students, as well as training teachers who are being assigned the nursery and elementary sections.
“If you can bear me witness, since Bridge International took over the school, the reading skill of the students has improved to some extent,” Bleetan said.
He then frowned at parents who are reportedly involved in giving their girl children over to early marriage, while calling on them to discontinue the practice of taking them from formal education to attend the Poro and Sande societies.
Bleetan added, “Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that our culture should not be practiced, but let us do it during the vacation time so that we can give chance to our children to complete the school year.”
He informed parents that the ministry is negotiating with BIA on how the program can be extended across the country, since the pilot phase is almost completed.
The principal, David Kezelie said when Bridge took over the school in 2016, the administration selected 11 teachers, who they trained for the exercise.
Kezelie said through the intervention of Bridge, two of the volunteer teachers were placed on government’s payroll; a process which encouraged student enrollment from 305 to 565, and that the number has not dropped since then.
BIA Country Director, Griffin Asigo, said his institution’s main objective is to work with the MoE to create an enabling and conducive learning environment through the training of teachers and the provision of essential textbooks for the students and teachers.
Asigo said in the Bridge partner schools, the reading skills of students have tremendously improved, adding: “When we took over, our assessment showed that less than 50 percent of students were able to read at least 21 words per minute but, since our involvement, the students are capable to read 60 words per minute, while only 6 percent still find it difficult to read.”
“A good number of the teachers are not on government payroll and as the result, it kills the self-esteem of the teaching staff. But we hope that the MoE family would work in that direction to place those volunteer teachers on payroll,” Mr. Asigo said.
At present, BIA is operating in 10 of the 15 counties.
At the the Sanoyea Elementary Public School, 84 students received certificates following the completion of nursery and sixth grade classes, while some of the teachers were also honored for their “outstanding commitment to duties.”