Bridge Partnership Schools for Liberia (Bridge PSL) on Saturday graduated 227 trainees who came from 33 schools and from the Rural Teacher Training Institutes in the Southeast. Bridge PSL will operate schools in 8 districts across Maryland and Grand Kru Counties. Teachers who came to training were those who passed MOE’s approved Bridge’s test and accepted to work in the Bridge PSL program.
The training was an intensive residential two-week training for all teachers, and administrators who will teach in Bridge Partnership Schools in Maryland and Grand Kru. During the training, Bridge’s experienced trainers led sessions for small groups of teachers and administrators focusing on pedagogy; the use of Bridge technology, books, and teacher’s guides; behavior management in classes; and working with communities to create strong, successful public schools. In total, teachers and administrators received over 120 hours of direct instruction.
“Our teachers now have all the resources they need to teach in all 33 schools and 248 classrooms. Our teachers are prepared to lead their students in a revolution in education, and to be a new crop of great teachers building the future of Liberia,” said Joe K. Gbasakollie, Deputy Country Director for Bridge PSL. Mr. Gbasakollie said Bridge is creating public schools that will become powerful and perform at the highest level in any public exams.
The program was attended by Maryland County Superintendent Hon. Betsy Kuoh-Toe, William V. S. Tubman University President, Dr. Edward L. Wonkeryor, representatives from the CEOs offices of Grand Kru and Maryland, the County HR Officer for Maryland County, a representative of WFP, and other eminent citizens of Maryland and Grand Kru counties.
Serving as Keynote Speaker, the superintendent of Maryland County, Hon. Betsy Kuoh-Toe congratulated the government of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Ministry of Education for the inclusion of the southeast in the PSL program, and promised her unflinching support for the program. The Superintendent also vowed to ensure Bridge PSL becomes successful in the Southeast. The retired educator used the occasion to call on the government and the MOE not to limit Bridge's operation in the two southeastern counties, but to expand in the other three counties in the region.
Madam Toe highlighted critical challenges facing the education sector including poor infrastructure, lack of trained teachers, lack of instructional materials, and no or very limited monitoring and supervision. She assured participants that Bridge PSL can be the nation’s savior given its track record in delivering high quality education. “I have heard and seen that Bridge provides books and materials in every classroom; Bridge provides excellent curriculum and learning materials; Bridge provides training to make stronger and better teachers; Bridge provides technology to support and track performance; Bridge encourages extra curriculum activities in schools too; Bridge has reliable staff who help students succeed. These are exactly what we need as a country to reform our educational sector,” said Mrs. Kuoh-Toe.
Also speaking at the program, Dr. Edward L. Wonkeryor, president of William V. S. Tubman University, expressed optimism that Government’s Partnership Schools for Liberia Program represents a break from the intractable education challenges facing the country. The William V. S. Tubman University academic confirmed that there have been some strides made in the sector under the leadership of Madam Sirleaf. The Professor further alluded that Bridge’s model of education is unique and needs to be replicated in other counties. “Our university's doors will remain opened for Bridge PSL whenever you need us for training and other professional development programs in the future,” he said.
Overall, trainees were very excited about the teaching skills acquired over the past two weeks and feel prepared for the challenges ahead. It is everyone’s hope that these teachers will be able to start the school year on high note.
One graduate trainee (Teacher Oscar Toe) expressed heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Bridge-Liberia government partnership for not only initiating such an important program in the educational sector, but also choosing to focus mainly on the primary level. The newly trained teacher, who is now fully equipped with new classroom skills and exposure to technology driven pedagogy, was happy to serve as an ambassador to other teachers in the southeast as a part of the first set of Bridge teacher trainees.
Liberia has long been grappling with the decay in the education system, including poor infrastructure, inadequate human resources, and outdated and sometimes poor learning resources, ever since the civil war erupted and dismantled the fabrics of our society – education being one key area.
Bridge Partnership Schools for Liberia is the first and largest of eight operators partnering with the Government to improve the quality of education for primary students. This coming academic year, 58 Bridge Partnership Schools will begin operations in 11 counties including the Southeast. Bridge Partnership Schools are part of a national movement to dramatically improve education in Liberia.
“The plan is to create powerful public schools which embody the aspirations of the Liberian child: Schools that they can trust, where they have the opportunity to grow and become better and productive citizens,” noted Joe Gbasakollie. Both the teachers and school principals are very excited for a new day.