President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appeared very delighted after learning that Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV), who were evacuated from Liberia due to the severity of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak, have now returned and have resumed work at their various areas of assignment across the country.
President Sirleaf said the return of the volunteers, which began July this year, is very welcoming as the academic year began last Monday. She noted that the volunteers have been doing a great job since the resumption of the program in the country.
Speaking at the dedication ceremony of the PCV headquarters in Sinkor yesterday, President Sirleaf said the volunteers have been instrumental in helping fix the Liberian school system, especially restructuring the public school system with much emphasis in the area of curriculum development.
She indicated that the dedication of the PCV headquarters clearly signifies that the program has kick-started, and hoped that their stay will not be interrupted again.
“The opening of this building clearly indicates that the Peace Corps is back for good… to stay without any interruption,” she said.
“The volunteers have been doing enormous jobs in those areas where Liberian students have more difficulties. The primary focus of the volunteers has been in the area of secondary education where they have been teaching mathematics and other science courses,” the President Said.
In mid 2014 About 108 Peace Corps Volunteers, who were teaching in high schools, teacher training institutes and universities across Liberia, were evacuated from the country due to outbreak of the Ebola virus disease, but their return has brought some relief to the education sector, with the President publicly expressing her excitement.
Activities of Peace Corps volunteers in Liberia can be dated as far back as 1962 when Volunteers first began pouring into Liberia to buttress government’s development agenda. From 1962 to onset of the civil crisis which began in 1989, the volunteers, over 4,000 in all, supported Liberia’s development efforts in four strategic areas. These included governance, education, rural development and health.
Trough the instrumentality of President Sirleaf, the program was restarted in 2008 with the arrival of 12 volunteers. Since then, over 120 volunteers have arrived in the country with primary focus on education and health.
With the recommencement of the program, President Sirleaf disclosed that the government suggested that local college graduates, who were to be known as national volunteers, serve along PCV for them to be mentored. Since then 300 local volunteers have benefitted from the program with some now teaching at Teachers’ colleges in the rural parts of the country.
US Ambassador Deborah Malac said the dedication signifies the celebration of education in Liberia. She was excited that the program is growing, which is a good sign for the Liberian students. She said education is one thing that, when obtained, cannot be taken from you.
Ambassador Malac, who had just returned to the country after being away for over three weeks, described herself as a real fan of the Peace Corps program.
Peace Corps Country Director, Kevin W. Fleming, indicated that the Peace Corps under its global “Focus In” strategy is, and has been, collaborating with the Ministries of Education and Youth & Sports since 2008 to coordinate activities which will improve the lives of students in Liberia.
Director Fleming, who worked with Last Mile Health before taking on the new task, said in addition to teaching Math and Science in schools, the Peace Corps Volunteers have designed other strategies to collaborate with principals, teachers, and Parent Teacher Association (PTA) groups to improve school management, introduce innovative teaching techniques, facilitate the use of school libraries, encourage student and parent organizations, promote career opportunities, and participate in summer academic programs, among others.