USAID-HELD Trains Liberian Youths
The USAID Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development (EHELD) Project team has completed the Fast Start phase of the 2013 Summer Vacation program in designated communities across the country.
The Fast Start program which benefited 410 students from both private and public high schools between July 15-26, 2013 was held at the Dolokolen Gboveh High School in Gbarnga, Bong County; Voinjamin Multilateral High School in Voinjama, Lofa County; John W. Pearson High School in Ganta, Nimba County; St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in LAC, Grand Bassa County and Zwerdu Multilateral High School in Zwerdu, Grand Gedeh County, respectively.
Speaking to the Liberia Media Initiative (LMI) upon completion of the Fast Start exercise, the USAID/EHELD project Outreach and Partnership Officer James Mulbah described this phase as one of the most important components of the project.
Mr. Mulbah, who covered sites in Bong and Lofa counties said, the Fast Start interaction was rewarding for both facilitators and students with the involvement of the project partners from the University of Liberia, Cuttington University and Michigan in the Americas.
He said what personally shocked him was the fact that some young Liberian High School students do not have a clear understanding of what Engineering is, adding that though they were enthusiastic about the USAID/EHELDF Fast Start interactive exercise, it was unique that the American people provided the opportunity for Liberian students to participate in such eye opening educational program.
Speaking further, the USAID/EHELD Outreach and Partnership Officer told the Liberia Media Initiative (LMI) that the students benefited teaching in basic life skills, computer science, math, and career counseling, in Agriculture and Engineering.
The Partnership Liaison Officer Mardia Varkpeh, who was responsible for Bomi and Grand Bassa counties, noted that there was a shortfall of 5-6 students scouted during the preparatory visitation ahead of the Fast Start, who were to form part of the program, did not show up, but indicated that the team building exercises with participating students were quite impressive.
Mardia recognized the working collaboration with the University teams especially the Michigan and Peace Corp Volunteers Team as one that positively contributed to the success of this year’s USAID/EHELD Fast Start Summer program in Liberia.
The USAID/EHELD Liaison Partnership Officer said what was remarkable about the Grand Bassa County Camp in LAC was the full support provided by the Management of the Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC), including feeding, transportation, and logging among others with only facilitators coming from the USAID/EHELD team.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist Thomas Borwah, who controlled Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties for the Fast Start explained that the participation of women in the USAID/EHELD Fast Start exercise is a plus for the project.
Mr. Borwah said it was encouraging to know that young Liberian women are now seriously interested in studying Agriculture and Engineering as future professional careers, noting that their interactions during the exercise in Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties was a positive indication that women are prepared ever than before to forge for higher education in all aspects of learning.
The USAID/EHELD Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist hoped the inclusion of more schools in upcoming Summer programs be considered, since many students and school authorities have expressed interest in the program on grounds that Agriculture and Engineering are fields that would produce more future entrepreneurs and employers to contribute to Liberia’s rebuilding process.
The USAID/EHELD project is a five-year funded educational program for Liberia, geared at encouraging students in the senior high division to prepare themselves to make informed decision to study Agriculture and Engineering on a scholarships basis at the Universities of Liberia and Cuttington.
The USAID-Excellence in Higher Education for Liberian Development project is already in its third year phase with several students presently benefiting from the scholarship scheme at the both Universities in Bong and Montserrado Counties.
The USAID/EHELD project also supports capacity building programs in the Engineering and Agriculture sectors, with the most recent being the support to the training of modern surveying technicians and support to the Veterinarians Without Borders that administered free rabies dogs’vaccine in Montserrado and Bong Counties.
Meanwhile, participants of the 2013 Fast Start Summer program across Liberia are calling for more of such educational career counseling exercises to enable Liberian students make informed decisions in areas of specialization. The students believe career counseling is one of the best ways of helping young Liberians to prepare themselves, ahead of University education.