The Ministry of Education faces numerous challenges including inadequately trained and inequitable distribution of teachers. According to the 2017 MoE Teacher Verification and Testing Program, 40 percent of primary school teachers do not possess the minimum required knowledge of English needed to be an effective instructor at the primary level. The distribution of qualified teachers in Liberia is also inequitable, with regions having economic advantage also getting more, and higher qualified teachers.
This is highlighted through the student-to-trained teacher ratio (STTR) which is 34:1 in Montserrado County, yet ranges from 64:1 to 90:1 in counties with high incidences of poverty (e.g. Rivercess, Sinoe, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, and River Gee). Multiple literatures point to lack of basic education inputs as causes of low learning outcomes across sector. With these in mind, the Government of Liberia in 2018 at the National Education Summit made a promise to the Liberian people that education shall be among the Government’s priorities. That was a promise of a transformative education; an education system that will ensure system transformation. That promise may seem to be slowly coming but we have reasons to celebrate critical milestones achieved in the sector.
The confidence restored in this Government has led to increased investment in the sector from the past two years and the Liberian people will begin to see the tangibles- it is just a matter of time. According to the Ministry of Education, in the last quarter of this fiscal year, we expect to see massive school infrastructure development, increase in system level accountability, human capital development and increased access to teaching and learning materials. Significant progress has been made to ensure more unqualified teachers and principals are trained to teach and manage schools.
The MoE in fiscal year 2019/2020 recruited three external training service providers to work with its three Rural Teachers Training Institutes (RTTIs) to design and implement an accelerated in- service teacher and principal training as first cohort, so RTTIs will roll out the training programs in subsequent years as a sustainable government program. Today that dream of the MoE has been realized. Through a Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Grant, the first cohorts of 175 ECE teachers, 185 primary teachers, and 395 principals are graduating across six counties (Bomi, Rivercess, Sinoe, grand Kru, Maryland and River Gee). The project is targeting 700 ECE teachers, 700 primary teachers and 1,500 principals over the next two years.
The training activities are part of the Liberia Getting to Best in Education (G2B) Project implementation, which includes increasing access to and quality of ECE through school grants provision and provision of community-based ECE services; School Quality Standards, monitoring and inspection; and Achieving better learning through improved equity, efficiency, and accountability. The G2B is a 4-year project which became effective on June 25, 2018.
The Ministry of Education over the weekend graduated the first batch of Early Childhood Education In-Service C-Certificate Teachers with funding from Global partnership for Education service provider WE-CARE foundation.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony held at the Kakata Rural Teachers Training Institute (KRTTI) in Margibi County, the guest speaker, Mrs. Thelma T.M. Nimmo, Assistant Minister, Bureau of Early Childhood Education, praised the WE-CARE Foundation for what she termed as milestone contribution to the national development of the country.
According to Minister Nimmo, the goal of the teachers training program is to prepare in-service ECE teachers for the ECE “C” Certificate in its maiden version in 2021 adding, that the task of building a resilient ECE Sub-sector is responsive to national development.
Speaking on the topic “Improving ECE Teachers Quality, an Indispensable Pillar of National Development”, Minister Nimmo intimated that the country has a youthful population that must focus on the positive path in developing their potentials.
In her deliberation, she urged the teachers to go out as pioneers to bridge the gap in our manpower capacity to deliver quality instruction at the Early Childhood level which will in turn affirmatively affect the upper levels of the educational system.
According to her, the teachers must take on the new knowledge and skills acquired thus far to effectively contribute to the improvement of teaching and learning at the Early Childhood Education level which can only be achieved when the acquired knowledge is put in perspective.
Addressing over 45 ECE-C certificate teachers and other prominent representatives from diverse institutions, Madam Nimmo stressed that the graduates must set their goals, take responsibility for their actions, find inspiration in what they do, leave the past behind, maintain focus and determination, be patient, build integrity and be a responsive caregiver, respect the Golden Rule, and set high expectations for themselves and school. “As you go along, mistakes will every now and then pop up to litter your achievement”, “It is not the same as you have failed”, “Take time to learn valuable lessons from those mistakes and move on,” she emphasized.
Concluding, the Assistant Minister thanked the development partners including the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), WE-CARE Foundation, a long-standing partner of the Ministry of Education, and the World Bank for the funding opportunity that has enable them to train teachers at the ECE level in six counties.
She also extended special thanks to the KRTTI family, CEOs and County School Systems of Bomi and Rivercess County for their collaboration and support to the worthy cause.
Making several remarks during the graduation program, Mr. Edwin B. Ballah, B-certificate specialist, Mr. Martin L. Poquie, Director of the WRTTI, Mr. George B. Kpenneh of KRTTI, representatives of the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) amongst others, lauded WE-CARE Foundation for their tireless and relentless contributions that rendered and continue to render for the betterment, improvement, and upgrading of the educational system.
For their part, they urged the first batch of the ECE C- certificate teachers to utilize the acquired skills and knowledge so that the foundation of our kids can be of priority.
Speaking further, they indicated that in order to have a quality educational system, teachers must be resourceful, thoughtful, innovative, and have an ideal child friendly teaching and learning environment for the growth and development of the kids.