The CoronaVirus Pandemic exposed the inefficiencies of many systems. For Liberia, a country still recovering from the collapse of the education system, the disruption in education for students, particularly high school students, is deepening the already existing social injustices associated with poor learning. TRIBE, a social enterprise officially launched in December 2019 has been leading efforts and running programs to bridge the learning gaps.
With an aspirational goal of building ecosystems to create 25,000 quality jobs by 2035, TRIBE, in late 2019, conducted research to assess the high school educational model, learning outcomes and youth unemployment in Liberia, and is currently running entrepreneurial and digital literacy programs to bridge some of the gaps they identified in the high school learning framework. The YEBC (Young Entrepreneurs Boot Camp), launched and currently being implemented, is third in a series of these programs introducing entrepreneurship and digital literacy to high school students.
“The YEBC was originally designed for 100% in-person activities to work with students to develop ventures, but due to the COVID-19, we adjusted our model to 20% in-person sessions on Fridays and 80% virtual learning sessions during other week days. The current model of the YEBC is tailored to ignite the entrepreneurial mindset while inspiring the confidence and building the competence of high school students,” Elvis Browne, Communications Associate of TRIBE.
Twenty-seven high school students and transitioning high school graduates enrolled in the experiential four-week YEBC program and are currently undergoing training.
The Program Manager, Solomon Gavin Mahn, stated that students often lack the skills to gain employment and often struggle navigating digital technologies. “As an education social enterprise, we are working to improve learning outcomes for high school students. Data we collected from conducting our education research and our experience piloting our Virtual Entrepreneurship Program mirrored the blatant weaknesses in the Liberian education system, particularly for high schools,” Solomon Gavin Mahn.
Mahn further stated that the digital literacy component of the program is designed to introduce students to basic digital productivity tools, online research, as well as the proper usage of the internet.
Nineteen students participated in the first in-person session on Friday, July 31, 2020 at the Youth Connekt Innovation Lab, SKD Sports Complex. Joseph Ryan Watson, a 14 year old student with an overarching drive for entrepreneurship was excited meeting his colleagues in the YEBC for the first time. But more than ever, Watson feels the YEBC is the right place to nurture his entrepreneurial drive.
“I want to buy a share in Amazon someday,” Watson declared with a tone of enthusiasm. For her part, Benetta Kollie, a recent student of TRIBE Virtual Entrepreneurship Program who is currently enrolled in the YEBC, her exposure to social entrepreneurship has broadened her perspectives on issues affecting her community and school, and has given her the urge to act.
“I want to open an after-school study club for students in my community,” Kollie said. “The club will help inspire academic excellence in high school and unite young scholars to address problems in their community and beyond,” Kollie emphasized.
As a Liberian youth-led social venture utilizing research and technological tools to create innovative educational programs to improve learning outcomes and prepare high school students for the future of jobs, TRIBE is making intentional efforts to redefine learning for high school students, hence improving learning outcomes.
A career educator, Marcelle Yhap, conducted a personal development master class as part of the in-person session on Friday. Yhap stressed on the importance of extracurricular activities in Liberian schools and expressed joy that TRIBE is exposing students to entrepreneurship, team building and digital literacy, 21st century skills that are rarely taught in Liberian high schools.
“These skills-building courses are very important for the workforce,” Marcelle emphasized.
TRIBE is an educational social enterprise inspiring a new generation of purpose-driven young entrepreneurs, innovators, and storytellers. Founded by Wainright Acquoi and James Kollie and officially launched in 2019, TRIBE is creating innovative programs and digital solutions to improve learning outcomes and prepare high school students for the future of work.