The Minister of Education George W. Werner has observed that although the country’s education sector is experiencing immense stress and challenges that are obstructing the path forward, huge progress has been made in the education sector since the end of country’s civil conflict 12 years ago, adding that this was done with support from local and international partners.
Minister Werner made the observation at the 38th Session of the United Nations Education and Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference in Paris, France. He said since the end of the civil crisis, Liberians have been building schools and improving the quality of teaching due to a strong central leadership from the government.
Minister Werner told the conference that despite the challenges, the Government of Liberia is committed to improving children’s literacy and numeracy in order to provide the necessary skills for students to advance to become active members of society. He said the Ministry of Education (MOE) will institute a national assessment to enable it to determine where changes will be most effective in targeting a national literacy goal.
‘’Measures of teachers’ training and the time they spend teaching have been found to be the strongest factors influencing student achievement. We will invest by increasing Mathematics and Science teachers, providing quality trainings for competent and existing teachers, and go beyond practices of basic training through the provision of constant support and supervision with in-service training. This will be managed by three regional Teacher Training Institutes (TTIs) to ensure quality training at an estimated cost of $22.5 million, » Werner said according to a dispatch from Paris.
Minister Werner said well designed schools with adequate facilities are essential to improving the quality of education. The government, he said, has planed to both focus on renovating existing structures and building 83 needed structures in the most populated school districts at an estimated cost of $30.7 million. He said desks, textbooks and learning aids are essential for supporting student learning.
With the funding from the Global Partnership for Education, he said the government is distributing a million text books, written by Liberians, for grades 5-9 and high school. Additional textbook costs for grades 1-4 is estimated at $6.5 million. In addition, an estimated $8.75 million is necessary for the provision of chairs, and $1.9 million for the provision of teachers’ desks, learning aids, such as posters and educational games, are also required for Early Childhood Education (ECE) classes and secondary schools.
Minister Werner said the MOE will continue a process of decentralization which will transfer management and monitoring powers to counties. Additionally, the Ministry of Education will establish 3 centers of excellence as planned under the 2011 Education Reform Act including a center for accreditation. These two initiatives are estimated to cost US$3.5 million.
He said the strategy to transform the education system in Liberia means that change is necessary and must be immediate. He noted the Ministry’s goals are that by 2017, the foundations are in place for a Liberian education system that improves all children and young people’s learning and by 2020, there will be a significant improvement in children’s learning outcomes and national literacy rates.
He commended the Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova and her team for the Teachers Education (ITC) capacity-building initiatives through the Chinese Government and for the process leading to the approval of Providence Island to obtain Heritage Status based upon the recommendation of about 68 historical sites submitted to the World Heritage Center.