Gompa City, Nimba County came alive last week as the Education Ministry and stakeholders in education made their annual gathering – the Joint Education Sector Review – to review challenges and progress and; appreciate partners who have and continue to help lift Liberia’s educational sector.
At this year’s event, County Education Officers (CEO) from across the fifteen subdivisions of the country made insightful reports on the challenges their respective counties continue to face while highlighting what they have been able to achieve over the last year.
The contributions of the Liberian Education Advancement Program (LEAP) – that has just entered into its fourth year of operations – were amongst key educational sector programmes reported on.
Maryland County CEO praised the intervention of the LEAP program. He noted that, teacher attendance rate has increased by over 20%. With increased attendance tracking and volunteer teacher incentive, students are reading more because there is a high chance of getting a teacher in the LEAP managed classroom.
“The provision of stipends to volunteer teachers has helped in keeping teachers in the classrooms as the ministry works on modalities to find fiscal space to enroll more teachers on payroll, stated CEO Tehneseo Brohdonyen. Teachers have struggled to get on the Ministry payroll because of outstanding problems in the education sector such as ‘ghost teachers.’ They need to be properly supported if we expect them to work effectively and teach our children well. Education partners are having to go beyond their contracts and fundraising to raise stipends for teachers who are in the classroom and helping children learn; but not getting paid by the Government.
Grand Bassa County CEO, Nathaniel Cisco praised the LEAP intervention in his county which has recently been awarded additional LEAP schools to operate under the latest government expansion of the program. Now that the programme has expanded tens of thousands more students will benefit from LEAP.
Mr. Cisco told a gathering of educational stakeholders at the Joint Education Sector Review in Gompa City that, the program is helping to shape education for the better in his county.
Bomi County CEO, Evelyn Twum also praised LEAP’s continuous engagements especially being proactive with educational stakeholders meetings, attendance and inputs. She said the success of the program is measurable in Bomi County.
The JESR has now come to a close. All eyes are on the Ministry of Education as it plans on how the Liberian education system is ‘Getting from Mess to Best.’ More schools need dedicated interventions like the LEAP program to improve the education sector in the country.
A report by the Center for Global Development on the program impact showed that after one year, public schools managed by the LEAP operators raised student learning by 60 percent compared to standard public schools.
At the same time, Education Minister, Prof. D. Ansu Sonii, speaking at the close of the JESR said the government will continue to put more time into Early Childhood Education (ECE) development in its quest to enable students to successfully pass the West African Secondary School Certificate Education, which Liberia traditionally performs poorly. He said only if ECE is developed; will the country and its youth ultimately be successful.