Authorities at the Ministry of Education (MoE) yesterday launched the Early Childhood Education (ECE) project that was developed to help government address a widespread and persistent challenge with regard to access, equality and learning outcomes in basic education in the country.
The ECE project was launched under the theme, “Getting the Best in Education Sector Plan (G2B-ESP 2011).” The plan was formulated with nine priority program areas, including ECE, primary education, curriculum reform, improved teacher management, school accountability, and some priorities at post-basic levels.
From yesterday’s launch, the ministry will now use the G2B-ESP to implement a series of strategic, evidence-based and innovative programs to measure education quality, access, equity and relevance in Liberia during the plan period.
The GPE is supporting the MoE to achieve the G2B-ESP through a US$11.07 million grant. The project channels funding to make improvements to early childhood, teacher training, school management, accountability and systems monitoring. These component will receive a total of US$6.5 million from Global Partnership System with additional US$3.57 million available to support the ministry to increase in the proportion of qualified ECE and primary teachers, to improve teachers payroll management, and to establish a national primary school learning assessment system.
According to MoE, each ECE school improvement grant will use improved grant guidelines, giving money for improving teaching and learning materials, construction and repair and stipends to facilitate over-age students’ transition to primary through catch-up lessons.
Also, community-based ECE will be established in at least 20 remote communities to enable trained community caregivers to provide instruction where school-based ECE is available.
Ansu D. Sonii, Minister of Education, in a special statement, said the country is experiencing many challenges on its development agenda, “unfortunately, education delivery is among the most urgent.”
He added that his comment does not in anyway diminish the impact of significant expenditure made by the government and its partners, who have shown so much interest in the country’s case, with particular concerns for the development of the Liberian child.
“It is therefore abundantly clear that this country must begin to think, and do things differently, if different results are expected, so that every dollar raised and spent for Liberia will be transformative of the lives of those most in need,” Sonii said.
He observed that Liberia has long-standing sincere friends, partners, collaborators and many of whom were present in the hall, while many others were both in-country and in distant lands, but with their ears tuned to events unfolding in the country.
He said those we cannot afford to disappoint by our thought process and action consistent with changing circumstances and realities. Therefore, the playing field for education, health, agriculture and necessary infrastructure must be result-oriented and people centered.
He said the two grants are preceded by an earlier grant of US$40 million nearly 10 years ago, which saw the construction of 40 public schools in the country, with teachers’ housing and the implementation of several capacity building programs, provision and distribution of 1 million text books, payment of direct school grants and other similar assistantship.
Minister Sonii said that beyond the US$40 million grant, the current grants shall be used to build on the preceding impactful activities, taking more on sponsoring national assessment system for primary schools, leadership development in school management, capacity development for education officers, training opportunities for nearly 1,400 Early Childhood Development, and primary school teachers, and improvement of school quality through direct school grants under close supervision.
Héléna Cavé, European Union Ambassador, defines the GPE as a worldwide global partnership for education that brings together representatives of all stakeholder groups. “To date, 65 countries have joined the partnership, and around 20 donors are supporting the GPE Fund,” Cavé said.
According to her, the EU currently finances over 65 percent of the overall GPE budget. The EU has been a consistent supporter of the GPE since its creation in 2002.
The partnership, she said, was created to deliver on global education commitment made at the Dakar World Education Forum and the millennium summit in 2000.