The Kids' Educational Engagement Project (KEEP,) in partnership with stakeholders, including the Ministry of Education and donor partners on Friday conducted a one-day evaluation of women who were trained to monitor schools' authorities and their children in their respective communities.
With the goal to improve both learning outcomes and service delivery in the education sector, KEEP with support from Open Society Initiative of West Africa (OSIWA) is working in three counties, mainly with women as primary rights holders whose capacity is being built to take part in decision-making processes in the education sector.
KEEP is working at the county and district levels and uses the information gathered through monitoring for national advocacy and policy change. Through joint monitoring, the Women Action Groups (WAG) work closely with the duty bearers in their communities to monitor the service delivery of education.
The program brought together over 63 participants, including women, district education officers (DEO), county education officers (CEO), authorities of the Ministry of Education (MOE), and other stakeholders. The participants explained the success of education/training acquired through KEEP.
Brenda B. Moore, executive director of KEEP, said participants have been taught to take ownership of their children's education through monitoring of schools authorities and students.
"With today's conversations from them, we feel that they are empowered enough to monitor the schools within their respective communities and their children being in school in time. They have been trained to move to their children's school campuses and ask authorities of schools relevant questions," Mrs. Moore said.
According to Mrs. Moore, KEEP is currently planning to decentralize the program to other counties, an initiative that will enable parents to monitor their children and schools and ensure better education outcomes. She said teaching of the teacher's code of conduct and complaints from students will form part of the manual.
"We worked with these rural women who think they did not have the face or voice to stand and ask school authorities about the school or their children. They did not know that they have the right to ask questions and demand things from the school, like teachers who have been paid by government to show-up to teach," Mrs. Moore said.
She said the women have been educated to monitor and enforce the teacher's code of conduct which, among others, forbids students going on teacher's farm to work and putting money in homework and paying money for grade.
Mrs. Moore added: "The Friday's program was meant to give chance to the women to highlight what they have learned with high level educational partners in attendance and donor partners. This is also intended for participants to share their experiences with each other with a focus of happenings in their respective county. We have encouraged the women to take ownership of this program, thereby, monitoring in the absence of KEEP."
To improve the education sector, Mrs. Moore recommended "an active and functional parents teachers association participation in the management of the school, report incidents of corruption in school and create awareness of the effect of corruption on the children learning outcome among others."
Massa Crayton, Country Director of Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), lauded the participants and KEEP's executive director Mrs. Moore "for such an awesome job, which has led to empowerment of women."
"Today our women, without your participation and commitment, we would not have unearthed some of the issues being addressed. The mothers are responsible for us to have improved and better education for the children, because children come home from school and the first person to see is the mother, while fathers are away," Ms. Crayton said.
According to Ms. Crayton, if the education sector will be improved, parents must ensure that some of the issues within various schools are addressed, describing parents as first respondents.
She said 90 percent of school teachers are men, which serves as disadvantage to the children, especially to the girls.
"This is where some of the ills/bad things in the education sector arise, including sex for grades. We need to press on the girls to be encouraged about school. Our girls enrollment at the junior high is impressive, but drop at senior high," Ms. Crayton noted.
Ms. Crayton said students in Monrovia and its environs appear to have quality of education than those in the rural counties, adding, "students in Monrovia can read better than those in the leeward counties, a situation that needs urgent solution."
Satta Mamuh, a beneficiary of KEEP's women program, lauded KEEP and partners for the support, indicating that they continue to take the lead in their children's education.
"We are honored for bringing us together to understand our rights as parents and to be able to advocate for our children's rights. This has led to immense transformation at various schools in our communities. We are now empowered to ask teachers and principals about our children's education without fear," madam Mamuh said.