128 students have enrolled in the University of Liberia (UL) Early Childhood Pilot Demonstration School at the University’s Fendall Campus for this academic year, a release has said.
Authorities have meanwhile described it as a remarkable rise in student enrollment, from just seven students when the pilot program started last year.
The Early Childhood Pilot Demonstration School, housed in the University’s dormitory, is being run under the William V.S. Tubman Teachers College at the UL. Prior to the establishment of the demonstration school, which resulted from a project undertaken by the senior class of the Teachers’ College of 2017/2018 academic year, the UL has been struggling over the past years for a place where students enrolled in the Teachers’ College could go to practice.
The difficulties of locating a suitable place for students to practice emerged when the Teachers’ College was transferred from the main campus on Capitol Hill, where students previously had easy access to nearby schools in and around Monrovia, to the University’s Fendall campus.
The challenge faced by students enrolled in the Teachers’ College led them to go to schools in Fendall and Bensonville, to locate a suitable place to practice, but they did not succeed. Being able to practice is necessary for students enrolled in a teacher’s college. Students in medical school, for instance, go to the teaching hospital to practice, while students attending a teacher’s college also need a place where they can practice.
The Dean of the William V.S. Tubman Teachers Colleg, Madam Cecelia Cassell said students went around the community and as far as Bensonville, looking for schools where they could practice, but they just could not find a place that was closer to Fendall campus.
She said in subsequent times, one of the dormitories would be useful for the practice. Based on a request by the Teachers’ College to the UL Administration, Dean Cassell said the dormitory was approved to be used to start the operation of the University’s Early Childhood Demonstration School.
Upon on approval by the University, Dean Cassell said the Teacher’s College’s senior class of 2017/2018 decided to undertake a project at the dormitory – following the second semester – and brought in 24 chairs for beginners from nursery to pre-first.
She said that the senior class brought tables for the students to use, chairs for the teachers, and also painted the rooms, paving the way to start the school with seven students during the last academic year.
“As I said, we started with seven students, but the work that we did last year, parents saw the work that we did, we don’t even have space to register all the incoming students.
As I speak, we have 128 students,” Madam Cassell said.
She added that the UL started the early childhood program in order to afford sophomore students that are doing early childhood education courses based on the curriculum.
She said the establishment of the Early Childhood Pilot Demonstration School is a great help, not only for the Teachers’ College but Liberia as well. With the enrollment of the 128 students this year, she said the demonstration school does not have space to accommodate additional students. She, therefore, appealed for partners’ help in the hope of assisting the University in acquiring a spacious area for the running of the demonstration school.
“This is a school for our students to practice, and so we cannot overcrowd the classes,” Madam Cassell said.
She appealed for textbooks and other instructional materials to help the students to develop a culture of reading.
Ms. Agnes Sele, one of the teachers, said dealing with the kids is no problem for her because she has a passion for the job.
Another instructor, Ms. Cecelia K. Kpawor, who has been at the demonstration school since last year, observed that children learn; sometimes through play, so materials are needed for the students’ recreation.
Ms. Grace G. Pah, an instructor for K-1 class at the demonstration school, said when she sees the kids improving it brings her joy and it makes her want to do more.
“Even before I could enter the University of Liberia, I was already a teacher because I love children and it has been my passion,” she said.
According to Grace, working with children can really make her happy and she wants to continue to be a teacher.