IT IS NO GAINSAYING THAT LIBERIA'S education system is indeed a mess. When the civil war came, it left no stone untouched, ravishing every sector of the country.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT COULD BE seen and felt in the brain drain the country suffered from as some of Liberia's best minds fled for safety and today, some are nestled in some of the world's developed nations contributing their respective quotas.
SO MUCH MORE THAT AFTER the cessation of the war and a democratically elected government, students were failing in the national exams, drawing global attention to the dire straits of Liberia's education sector.
ACCORDING TO THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, only 20% of children enrolled in primary school will complete secondary school. 42% of children are out of school. 50% of children are joining school 3 to 6 years late. 63% of girls between the ages of 15-24 are illiterate. Just over 60% of primary aged girls are out of school.
AFTER SEVERAL FAILED ATTEMPTS TO resuscitate, then came the creation of the Partnership School of Liberia pilot a new approach to education.
OFF FROM A ROCKY START, THE program was met with a tinge of skepticism from other stakeholders who were a bit
ALREADY IN ITS PILOT PHASE, a recently released report, commissioned by the Ministry of Education, and done by the Center for Global Development (CGD) and Innovative for Poverty Action (IPA) has shown that the PSL program has better potential for the future of the Liberian children.
"THERE IS SOLID EVIDENCE OF POSITIVE effects for Liberian children during the first year of PSL. Students at PSL schools learned more, received more instruction, and were happier at school than students at traditional public schools. Teachers in PSL schools were more likely to be at school, on-task, and engaged in instruction," the report stated.
"STUDENTS IN PARTNERSHIP SCHOOLS scored 0.18 standard deviations higher in English and 0.18 standard deviations higher in mathematics compared to students in regular public schools. This is the equivalent of 0.56 extra years of schooling for English and 0.66 extra years of schooling for math.
"THE PROGRAM INCREASED TEACHERS' quality of instruction. Teachers in PSL schools were 20 percentage points more likely to be in school during a random spot check (from a base of 40 percent in comparison schools) and 16 percentage points more likely to be engaged in instruction during class time (from a base of 32 percent in comparison schools).
"STUDENTS IN PARTNERSHIP SCHOOLS spent roughly twice as long learning each week, when taking into account reduced absenteeism, increased time on task, and longer school days in PSL schools," the report furthered.
LIBERIAN CHILDREN ARE NOT DULL. What they need is to be given is the opportunity. The opportunity to have access to books and other educational materials to expand their horizon. The opportunity to boost their confidence; the opportunity to know that they can sit with other students in the region and emerge with flying colors.
THIS IS WHAT THEY NEED. This is what has been lacking. This what the next leader, whoever wins the elections in October, should be elated about.
OF COURSE IT HAD TO COME WITH pieces of advices from the researchers and it's one which all eight providers must heed to.
"FUTURE RESEARCH COULD EXPLORE how the program can be improved before further expansion. The remaining two years of the three-year pilot provide an opportunity to test refinements to the program rules, while simultaneously building up the government's capacity to hold operators accountable and bringing down costs."