LIBERIA: The Education System Needs Transformation

first_imgLiberia’s education system is severely imbalance in the provision and delivery of services, facility management, staff supervision and bureaucratic control. The system has failed to generate comprehensive organizational and structural changes over the past ten years.Neglect, mismanagement and unprofessional conduct have destroyed the day-to-day function of the system by depriving many schoolchildren of a positive learning environment and critical academic growth after almost two decades of social dislocation and brutal civil war.Recently, there have been changes in the administration of the system intended to bring about reorganization. It is believed that this restructuring would bring about desperately needed transformation to a system that has been out of touch with 21st century academic values.Liberians are looking forward to this overhaul with great anticipation and expectations that the Ministry of Education (MOE) will function much better than it did over the past years. However, can Liberian schoolchildren be optimistic that this reorganization will make the leadership of the MOE more accountable to their learning, achievement and performance? Can parents be hopeful that this reorganization would indeed deal with a system-wide revamp that is devoted to analyzing and boosting the MOE’s management structure, including curriculum, instruction and organizational areas where the bureaucracy has been chronically inefficient? Can Liberians look forward to the MOE promoting creativity, innovation, curiosity and individualism in our education system?Over the past 10 years, the system has been in a state of mediocrity, remaining in freefall during this most critical period in our country’s history. The system failed simply because those who led and managed it lacked vision, direction, guidance and the political will to truly transform it.The MOE mercilessly trapped over a million schoolchildren in poverty, condemning many to the distinction of inequalities across all lines of class, gender, region and ethnicity. On the one hand, the system’s failure allowed students to pass from one grade to the next without certified academic confidence in basic skills; while leaving countless others disgustingly unprepared to function competently in the society.On the other hand, the system allowed useless and unethical teachers and administrators to make a mockery out of a noble and respectable profession without consequence or accountability. This colossal failure of our education system has had a horrible effect on schoolchildren, parents and communities across the country, radically affecting the general population with devastating consequences in our collective mindset, social attitude and communal behavior.The system failed our country immeasurably, and if we are not careful, it could rip off yet another generation of innocent Liberians by denying them a productive and promising future.This gigantic failure of the system should be a wake-up call to Liberians everywhere, especially those in leadership. We can quibble about the collapse of the system and blame past administrators, or we can stand up with the resolve and determination to fix it, and face the brutal truth that our country has been out-educated by every country in the sub-region and countless others around the world.The failure isn’t about the schoolchildren, because they are as smart as students anywhere on the planet. The hard truth is that other countries’ education systems have surged ahead, while ours has not modernized, nor kept up with changes which could transform the lives of our children. The danger of doing nothing is that a substantial portion of our youth, 45% of whom make up our population, will be left in ever deepening poverty, continually requiring massive assistance to be lifted out of a state of melancholy; and possibly leaving an entire generation abandoned without hope for a better life.Liberia needs to completely end its dependency and beggar mind-set towards education that permits us to rely totally on others for direction, standards, curriculum, and guidance in our education outlook. Our education system can only be transformed if we re-define opportunities, present innovations and provide orientations which embraces creativity, individuality, professionalism and resourcefulness.A paradigm shift would give recognition to developing the potential and capacity of teacher, student and school as the primary means in meeting 21st century socio-economic demands. To accomplish this goal, however, every aspect of our national life would have to be tapped, not simply by the scale of provision and access to service, but by the very nature of how educational services are conceptualized, resourced and delivered.This new narrative and paradigm shift in the system should be about integrity, standards, assessment, curriculum, discipline, resource management, performance, responsibility and respectability. It should be about building marketable skill sets and social benchmarks among schoolchildren as the means of achieving national goals.Such a narrative would indeed be resolute in maintaining education as the only ticket needed to reduce poverty, illiteracy, socioeconomic insufficiency and our chronic collective disease burden.To fundamentally restructure the system, we will have to prioritize education as a national requirement and not continue to give it the usual lip service treatment to fill speeches, excite constituents and accommodate international audiences. But to transform it in this manner would require a shift in our attitude and outlook in terms of policy and the way both educators and policymakers relate to one another in comparison to content, curriculum, skills training and instruction.Liberian education can truly become revolutionary if Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is present in schools. Making ICT an integral part of our national education strategy would indeed modernize learning and lead to total transformation of our educational landscape. If ICT is integrated properly in our school system, it could definitely contribute to building new relationships between schools, communities and the larger society by bridging the gap between formal, non-formal and informal education.There is a strategic need in Liberia to seriously consider developing a teacher residency program. Such a program would be intended to give new teachers valuable hands-on training from seasoned professionals as mentor teacher, while taking courses to earn a master’s degree in education. A program of this kind would indeed be an excellent way Liberia can begin an aggressive transformation, offering beginner teachers an opportunity to work under the guidance of an experienced teacher/adviser, counselor or guru in specific professions to gain practical knowledge. It would also force institutions of higher learning to provide advance courses in education and related areas to enhance the academic growth of a progressive and knowledgeable segment of our population.We need to come to terms with the way educational resources are distributed and utilized. Such as, how and where staffs are assigned, compensated, accommodated and where school buildings are constructed, in order to achieve clear-cut social and economic goals which impacts populations, diversity, development and modernization.It cannot be emphasized enough that the system is badly in need of capacity strengthening through professional and leadership development; including, curriculum and instructional resources, reinforced through interventionist accountability schemes, which can only be addressed through open measurements of accomplishment. This requires some common sense measures including leadership, discipline, curriculum and basic reading and language skill sets. A determined effort to train, recruit and retain high quality administrators and teachers will make the biggest difference in reforming and restructuring the system.The teaching profession must be made to appeal to the best and brightest among us. Having schoolchildren exposed to truly skilled teachers and administrators is an investment that is sure to pay off in the long-run, because it would demand that our system provides solid curriculum, assessment, expectation, performance, accountability and output nationwide.These practical and realistic approaches to transforming our education system would ensure greater social dividends, quantifiable and measurable returns in terms of learning, achievement, capacity, health, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene and well-being. Transforming our education system will deal with closing the gap between rural, urban and peri-urban schools, so that the entire system is brought into the 21st century with better innovation, curriculum, evaluation, achievement and performance.Note: Francis W. Nyepon: Author, Policy Analyst, Environmentalist and Entrepreneur:fnyepon@aol.comShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Braille Institute van to visit locally

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Boating classes to start in January NEWHALL – Flotilla 43 of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will offer two boating classes to the public beginning in January. “Coastal Navigation” will be offered from 7:30 to 9:30 Tuesdays, with the basic course beginning Jan. 10 and meeting for six weeks and the advanced course beginning Feb. 21 and meeting for six weeks. “ABC’s of Boating” will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursdays beginning Jan. 12 and meeting for four weeks. All classes will meet at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, 23233 Lyons Ave., Newhall. For information or to register for a course, call the auxiliary at (661) 259-7201 or (661) 268-0143. Nonprofits class set for January 10 CANYON COUNTRY – A workshop for nonprofit groups will focus on how to “Get Organized for the New Year” from 9 a.m. to noon Jan. 10 at the Santa Clarita Valley Resource Center in the city Activities Center, 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway, Canyon Country. Barbara Ricketts, president of LifeStyle Management Associates, will present the workshop. Those who attend will learn about time management, organizing an office and setting priorities. The cost of the workshop is $20 and reservations are required. For information or reservations, call (661) 250-3720 or e-mail info@scvrc.org. Sign-ups to begin at counseling site VALENCIA – St. Francis Counseling Center is offering three new six-week group sessions beginning in January, along with one ongoing session. An Assertive Group will help people learn to communicate to improve personal and professional relationships. This group will meet from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays beginning Jan. 10. An Honoring Your Anger Group will help people develop better self-control and express their anger appropriately. This group will meet from 7 to 8 p.m. Mondays beginning Jan. 9. A Navigating Adolescence Group will help teens handle peer pressure, communicate effectively and set healthy boundaries and will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesdays beginning Jan. 11. The cost for each six-week group session is $30 per week or $150 for the entire session. An ongoing Dual Diagnosis Group will meet from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays to help people who are chemically dependent and who are affected by emotional and mental illness. All of these groups will meet at the counseling center, 25050 Avenue Kearny, Suite 101, Valencia. To register for one of the sessions, call the center at (661) 294-2880. Author Badr set to sign her books VALENCIA – Local author Jocelyne Badr will sign copies of her book “Alter Idem” from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Valencia Library, 23743 W. Valencia Blvd., Valencia. Set in 19th-century Italy, the book is classified as historical fiction and is loosely based upon Badr’s background. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Badr was educated in a French Catholic school before coming to the United States in 1987. For information, call (661) 259-8942. 23-week Judaism course planned CANYON COUNTRY – “Introduction to Judaism,” a 23-week course covering Jewish history, life cycle, holidays, belief and practice, will meet from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays beginning Jan. 11 at Congregation Beth Shalom, 21430 Centre Pointe Parkway, Canyon Country. The course is designed for those interested in conversion or those of Christian or Jewish background who want to understand Judaism at its most basic level. It is free and open to the public. For information, call Rabbi Steve Conn at (661) 254-2411. Weste to speak on environment VALENCIA – The Sierra Club will meet at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12 in the upper classroom at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 24901 Orchard Village Road, Valencia. The guest speaker will be Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste, who will speak on the “State of the Environment in Santa Clarita.” For information, call Dave Morrow at (661) 254-5245. Senior trips loom for races, casino SANTA CLARITA – The Trips & Tours Department at the Senior Center is offering two day trips next month. A trip to the Santa Anita racetrack will depart at 10:30 a.m. and return about 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at a cost of $25. A trip to the Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville will depart at 8:30 a.m. and return about 6:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at a cost of $30. To register for either trip, call (661) 259-9444, Ext. 111. Mall, hospital join in walk program VALENCIA – Westfield Valencia Town Center mall and Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital have teamed up to provide a mall-walking program for 2006. The mall will be open to walkers from 7 to 10 a.m. daily. Goal-setting is involved in the walking program, and all participants will receive a free pedometer to track their miles. Awards will be given out at this year’s Run For the Health of It 5K Run/Walk held in October at Newhall Memorial. A speaker program will be held at 9 a.m. in the community room at the mall the second Tuesday of each month. The Jan. 10 speaker will be Beth Jenkins, a licensed social worker. For information, call David Sell at (661) 253-8017. Cancer support group at hospital VALENCIA – I Can Cope, an American Cancer Society educational series and support group for cancer patients, caregivers, family and friends, meets twice a month at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, 23845 McBean Parkway, Valencia. The next meeting will be at noon Jan. 10 in Room 1 of the hospital’s foundation building. Oncologist Alexander Black will discuss “Managing the Effects of Illness and Treatment.” For information, call the cancer society at (661) 298-0886, Option 3. Sign-ups continue for kids’ volleyball VALENCIA – Registration continues for the United States Youth Volleyball League’s spring season. The Valencia program will meet from 6 to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays at Valencia Valley Elementary School. The Saugus program will meet from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 to 10 a.m. Saturdays at Central Park. The eight weeks of volleyball will focus on serving, hitting, setting and spiking as well as the fundamentals of volleyball, including teamwork, sportsmanship and having fun. “Every Child Plays” is the motto of USYVL, which allows kids without prior experience to learn and enjoy the sport. For information on registration and volunteer positions, visit the group’s Web site at www.USYVL.org or call (888) 988-7985. – Daily News 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! NEWHALL – The Mobile Solutions Van from the Braille Institute will be available for the visually impaired from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center, 22900 Market St., Newhall. The Braille Institute van offers a variety of services for the visually impaired without the time or trouble of visiting the Braille Institute in Los Angeles. Services include the sale of assisting devices, library services registration, resource referrals and more. To meet with a low-vision consultant, make an appointment through the Visually Impaired Assistance Service at the Senior Center by calling John Taylor at (661) 259-9444. Lessons, dance on tap at center NEWHALL – USA Dance Inc., Ventura County Chapter No. 4022, will hold a series of dances in the Santa Clarita Valley. The first dance will be held Jan. 6 at the senior center, 22900 Market St., Newhall. A dance lesson will be offered at 7 p.m. followed by a dance from 8 to 10:30 p.m. For information, e-mail a.greycloud@dock.net. last_img read more

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