During a visit to the ongoing Bridge Partnership Teachers Training in Kakata, Margibi County, on Saturday, August 6, Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor praised the over 330 teachers and school administrators participating in the training.
The teachers and school administrators are drawn from eight counties – Montserrado, Grand Bassa, River Cess, Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Margibi, Bong and Nimba – where Bridge Partnership Schools will be operating.
“I am delighted that a majority of you have closed your ears and your eyes to the politicking around Bridge Partnership Schools, and have taken the bold steps to be part of this new action to improve the quality of learning for our children,” Senator Taylor said.
She praised the Bridge authorities for accepting to be part of government’s ongoing education reform agenda through the Partnership Schools Initiative.
Senator Taylor expressed the hope that partnership schools will succeed after they start operations in September this year.
She noted: “I want this program to succeed so that it can be rolled out to schools throughout the country for every Liberian child to become part of the bold, new and renewed effort of the government to upgrade and improve the quality of learning for all children in Liberia.”
“I am an opposition leader, but education is a non-political issue, because it is the future of our children. We should not politicize it, we should embrace new proposals and new ideas that seek to move us forward as we look for answers to the education problems we face,” the lawmaker said.
“Bridge is just but one of the many partners supporting Government through the Ministry of Education to meet this end. We should not be fighting or quarrelling over innovations, we should support innovation to enable us to succeed. We should hail this effort and support all the partners who have accepted the challenge to help us solve this education problem. It is serious, and we must deal with it seriously,” the former First Lady noted.
Bridge Chief Strategy Officer, Shannon May, asserted that her organization was excited to be part of Government’s efforts to create top and better schools that are powerful and trusted places of learning, where every Liberian child will be proud to learn and boast of attaining quality education comparable to children everywhere in the world.
May asserted: “It is [a] disservice to the children of Liberia and to children anywhere in the world who cannot attain quality education of their liking because of the constraints of their parents or because of poverty. This is why Bridge accepted the invitation from the Government of Liberia to be part of this new revolution to make sure that children everywhere in Liberia have access to quality education that sets them on a path to a better life and the future of their dreams.”
Liberia has long been grappling with the decay of its education system, poor infrastructure, inadequate human resources, outdated and sometimes poor learning resources. These are among the many challenges that beset the education system, 13 years after the country emerged from the civil war.
Exam scores have been plummeting since 2010, with the worst results to date in the just released 2015/2016 WAEC Exams. Acknowledging the challenges, and thinking out of the box to come up with innovative solutions, Education Minister George Werner proposed Partnership Schools for Liberia, a public private partnership between the Ministry of Education and numerous school operators who have proven records of improving learning outcomes in even the most difficult places and circumstances.
Bridge International Academies is the first of eight operators partnering with the Government to improve literacy and numeracy for primary students.
On September 5, approximately 25 Bridge Partnership Schools will begin operations. Bridge Partnership Schools are part of a national movement to dramatically improve education in Liberia.
“The plan is to create powerful public schools which embody the aspirations of the Liberian child: Schools that they can trust, where they have the opportunity to grow and become better and productive citizens,” noted Joe Gbasakollie, who is Deputy Country Director for Bridge Partnership Schools Liberia.
Both the teachers and school principals are very excited. Nancy Guladiah, one of participants from Montserrado County, said the training over the last two weeks has opened her eyes and helped her realize that dramatic learning gains are possible when students are placed at the center of classroom activities. She noted that the Bridge training encourages the teacher to engage the children in classroom discussion, which is far better than just having the teacher lecture the whole time.
Another participant, Joseph S. Karlon from Gbarnga, Bong County, said students learn by doing, by interacting, by participating, not just sitting for 40 or 45 minutes listening to what the teachers knows. He said that the students must be involved, which is the model Bridge and the
Ministry of Education are promoting, adding, “This is the method I have been advocating. This is why we believe our schools and our students will be on their way to the top and become better schools. This is why I accepted to be part of this program.”
With September just weeks away, hopes are now high for the initiative, and teachers are already in gear to begin the new revolution, according to Ben Sanvee, Bridge Director of Corporate Affairs and Public Sector. Teachers are learning skills in improved classroom management, pedagogical methods and technology-enabled systems to deliver lessons in real time. 12,000 Liberian children in 23 public primary schools across the eight counties will be covered by Bridge in the ensuing 2015/2016 academic year, which begins in September.