As part of an effort to lay the foundation for the enhancement of quality education in the country, the Ministry of Education (MOE) with support from the World Bank, has launched what it terms as the ‘renovation and rehabilitation of all public senior high schools across Liberia.
The launch is being made possible through a US$42 million World Bank grant for the improvement of the physical environment of Senior Secondary Schools in Liberia.
During the official launch of the event in Margibi County, the Minister of Education, D. Ansu Sonii, Sr., disclosed that most of the supports given by partners to the education sector in Liberia since the 1960s have been mainly directed towards Early Childhood (ECE) and Basic Education levels, leaving Secondary Education with little or no support with the hope that when the ECE and Basic education levels are sound and good, the senior secondary will also be good.
According to the Minister, the current Grant provided by the World Bank is focused on senior secondary education and will be used for the intended purpose, emphasizing that all those that will be implementing the Grant should endeavor to build trust and credibility as accountability and transparency will be the hallmarks of the project.
Minister Sonii added that the World Bank has insisted on a community empowerment approach to the implementation of the Grant and that County Education Officers (CEOs) and District Education Officers (DEOs) should not get involved in the procurement process, stressing that the Ministry will do everything possible to protect its high earned reputation. “The World Bank will be the one to handle the affairs of the fund. Your name should not go down in History for corruption,” he asserted.
He also cautioned DEOs and CEOs in various Counties to focus on their respective obligations for which they were appointed in order to bring affirmative results to the Ministry. Also speaking at the event was the Assistant Minister for Planning, Research, & Development, Hon. Dominic D. N. Kweme, noted that the grant provided by the World Bank aims to intervene in the improvement of Senior Secondary Schools in the Country, and a portion of it will be used to renovate and rehabilitate 156 Public Secondary Schools across the country, beginning with an intensive five (5) days training of Schools Management Committees (SMCs) and Education Officers (EOs) to oversee the implementation of the Grant at the school level.
He indicated that the leadership of the Ministry is working effectively and efficiently to build a vibrant education sector void of discrimination. At the same time, the Technical Lead of the Improving Results In Secondary Education (IRISE) Project, Mr. Abraham A. Kiazolu, II, extended special thanks to the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders for the level of cooperation and coordination thus far accorded for the smooth implementation of the project.
According to Mr. Kiazolu, implementation of the Public High Schools Improvement Grant considers the training of the SMCs and EOs on the Grant Implementation Manual, which includes separate sections on general administrative requirements for the Grant, procurement regulations, financial management requirements, as well as monitoring and evaluation.
He further said the training is being done in clusters, adding that Cluster 1 training is taking place in Tubmanburg, Bomi County and includes Bomi, Cape Mount and Gbarpolu counties; Cluster 2 is in Kakata, Margibi County and includes Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado counties; while Cluster 3 is in Gbarnga, Bong County and includes Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties; Cluster 4 is in Greenville, Sinoe County and includes Grand Kru, Rivercess and Sinoe; Cluster 5 is taking place at the Webbo Teacher Training Institute in Webbo, River Gee County and includes Grand Gedeh Maryland and River Gee Counties.
The Technical Lead of the IRISE Project indicated that the Project has other components that include cultivating girls’ transition and completion rate from secondary school via scholarships to female students in counties with high dropout rates and deployment of female guidance counselors in all public high schools.
In conclusion, he said the development and distribution of textbooks that aligned with the revised national curriculum and WASSCE syllabus and the training of pre-service and in-service teachers via scholarships, continuous professional development, and review and revamping of teacher training curriculums are cardinal to the Education sector noting, that the entire project is intended to run for four (4) years and the construction aspect will be concluded within eighteen (18) months.