Launches research paper
The National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL) and its partners have launched a research paper on the controversial Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) which the Association has strongly rejected.
The PSL was openly greeted with mixed reactions and criticisms from the NTAL, political actors, civil society organizations and the ordinary citizens leaving many with serious unanswered concerns, including the denial of some children access to their local schools. But their opposition has not been enough for the government to pause and reflect.
As a result of the government through the Ministry of Education imposing the PSL on the education system, several calls have been made for the immediate dismissal of Education Minister, George Werner.
The MOE defended its decision and has since commenced a one-year pilot program where eight organizations are operating 93 PSL schools. NTAL was the first group to raise concerns followed by a letter of protest to the Legislature.
Presenting the research paper to mediators between the government and the teachers of Liberia, NTAL President Mary Nyumah said the PLS is detrimental to an improved education system, noting it presents different modules of learning which will confuse students.
She said that the position is a firm decision on the Global response to the commercialization of education.
Madam Nyuma said the NTAL will not be deterred by anyone or institution to thwart their advocacy against the operations of the PLS and PPP.
She said the advocacy is not an issue for teachers only, but Liberian businesses and at such it requires the total involvement of all.
Madam Nyuma called on teachers to be robust in launching awareness to communities to inform and educate Liberians about the problems with Partnership Schools Liberia.
She rejected assertions that the education system is a mess, but said it instead lacks the needed financial support and necessary instructional materials.
The Liberian Government represented by the Education Ministry as well as Members of the Legislature were noticeably absent from the program.
The NTAL President said the absence of Education Ministry authorities and other key policy makers demonstrated their level of insensitivity to issues affecting the education sector.
Receiving the document, the head of the National Christian Council of Liberia, Rev. Rudolph Marsh, assured the Teachers that it will reach the office of the President and other relevant education stakeholders.
He pledged the National Christian Council’s support and promised to rally support from private schools and churches to join the advocacy of NTAL.
According to him, the pending collaboration through a Memorandum of Understanding will make it stronger and advocate better against ills in the education sector of Liberia.
He commended Education International for its contributions and relentless support to the NTAL in its resistance to PSL in Liberia. Detailing the research work was a Power point presentation done by researcher Tyler Hook who lauded representatives from Africa for what he termed as Pan African Solidarity.
Mr. Hook said the research was done by a team from the University of Wisconsin in the United States along with Liberian research assistants.
He named accountability, transparency, impact on teachers and students, lack of evidence based, involvement of key education actors including district and county Education Officers as some of the unanswered issues regarding the PLS.
According to him, the research has so far showed the PLS cannot reach the most disadvantaged schools and students as professed.
Commenting on the track record of PSL, the research paper showed that most of the providers have never operated pre-primary schools in Liberia before.
He questioned the vetting of schools by the Education Ministry and the failure to involve relevant education actors and communities.
The Power Point presentation listed some of the PSL service providers including BRAC, BIA, Street Child, Rising Academies, More Than Me and Stella Maris.
Researcher Hook quotes the research as indicating that partners were not constructing new schools, but taking over traditional public primary and pre-primary schools across the country.
“Liberian Education authorities lack the ability to effectively monitor and evaluate PSL operations in the country,” he cautioned.
Also speaking was a representative from Education International, Angelo Gavrielators who applauded the team of researchers headed by Tyler Hook.
Mr. Gavrielatos stated that Education International owes no government apology for its work to ensure transparency, accountability and sustainability in education.
Mr. Gavrielatos further pledged that Education International will continue to raise the issues that matter to improve education systems.
“None of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government of Liberia and service providers have been made public,” he intimated.
He challenged Liberian teachers to consolidate their solidarity and increase advocacy against such educational system as the teachers chanted their solidarity slogans committing themselves to oppose the Partnership Schools of Liberia which they claim is in no way helping the education system.
The program which started with a parade from YMCA on Broad Street to the Monrovia City Hall was graced by representatives of Teacher Unions from Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and officials of Education International among others.
The Education International (EI) also showcased their commitment and support to their Liberian counterpart to vehemently oppose and reject the Partnership Schools for Liberia.
The launch was attended by the 15 county leaderships and hundreds of the National Teachers Association members from across Liberia.