Upgraded learning in Liberia

24 May 2018

From the streets of Monrovia in the west to the forests of Maryland in the east schools in Liberia are changing.

Two years ago, schools in this part of Africa were perfect case studies of low-learning outcomes for children. It was almost unavoidable due to rife teacher absenteeism, next to nothing resources and children just trying to copy the blackboard without debate, questions or interest. Even today the results of this deficient education are evident to see: most adults are illiterate and most children are not attending primary school. The recent dramatic history of Liberia means it remains the fourth poorest country in the world and nearly the worst place to be a child who wants to learn.

But there are new pockets of hope across the country, as some parents have seen their free state primary school transformed. Changed into a place where teachers are motivated, resources are plentiful, and real learning is happening. There is a fresh enthusiasm for education as mothers, fathers and children see real renewal in their local school.

Over the last two years Bridge has been one of the organisations helping the Liberian government to drive this change for a number of state primary schools. To deliver the transformation Bridge has so far provided:

  • 819 teacher computers
  • 68 principal smartphones
  • 22,000 school uniforms
  • 139,000 student textbooks
  • 672 teachers trained to use improved pedagogy
  • 3,336 new school desks
  • 20,000 students impacted with a life changing education

So far all these resources and training hours over the last two years have cost the Liberian government zero dollars.

The textbooks are syllabus aligned and all freshly written by academics. They allow children to follow exactly what their teacher is focused on in each lesson. Children who used to have to desperately find the resources to buy expensive paper are now using their free homework book from Bridge to capture their efforts.

Mothers and fathers across the country are talking about their children learning much more. Teachers are excited to be getting on-the-job training and upskilling on a regular basis. New talent is entering the teaching profession and education experts around the world are starting to take note of the bold policy initiative being shown in this west African republic.

One of the most fundamental shifts in these schools is lengthening of the school day. It has long been the case that state primary schools in Liberia run from 07:30 until 12:30. But the new partnership schools are running on until 15:30. This has been enabled by the new Bridge support system, welcomed by parents who want to work for longer, and the end result is children learning far more every day.

Resources and training are just two of the many ways Bridge is helping the Liberian government quickly upgrade learning across the country.

It is no wonder two successive Liberian governments have been pleased to see this programme develop and spread across the country.

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