Liberia: Education Ministry - Civics Returns to the Classroom Next Academic Year

Monrovia — The much heralded civics curriculum is set to be re-introduced into the educational curriculum for all junior and senior high schools in the country. This was disclosed by the Deputy Education Minister, Mr. Alexander Duopue.

"As you may the aware, the Ministry is preparing to re-introduce Civics Education and make compulsory for all grades 1 to 12 schools across Libberia. This process should have been done long ago but our major challenge has been the lack of relevant textbooks. But the good news is that the Ministry is working with Child Step International to address this challenge," Dep. Min. Duopue said Wednesday, August 12, in Monrovia at the training of County and District Education Officers (C/DEOs).

Cllr. Kanio Bai Gbala is the lead facilitator for the two-day trainings of the C/DEOs.

According to the Deputy Education Minister, the focus of this civics education is to educate students about their rights and responsibilities, thereby promoting peace building and producing active citizenship.

The nationwide launch of this vital course kicked off Wednesday, August 12, with the first in a series of teachers' trainings. The civics curriculum, produced by Child Steps International (CSI) with funding and support from Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), focuses on interactive techniques such as games, poems and class debates. The Ministry of Education had previously set the goal of launching the curriculum nationwide and had enacted social distancing and other safety protocols to move ahead with the training.

"We knew we were going to have to keep moving forward and continue this important work," said CSI founder and CEO, Tenneh Johnson Kemah. Ms. Johnson Kemah has led the project since 2012 and says educating teachers in interactive curriculum is the biggest step yet toward rolling out the civics education to all Liberian junior high and high schools.

Minister of Education Ansu D. Sonii, Sr., made civics education a priority early in his term. "The Liberian people deserve to participate fully in their democracy," said Minister Sonii. "A nationwide civics curriculum, accessible to all students, will strengthen our democracy for decades to come."

LAW+YOU started in 2012 with only seven pilot schools, but has grown to include over 40 schools, an out-of-school youth community program and a radio show. "This is the culmination of years of collaboration, research, the trust of our funder and a committed partnership with the Ministry of Education," said Ms. Johnson Kemah.

Massa Crayton, Country Manager for Liberia at OSIWA spoke to the long-term partnership and commitment to civics in Liberia. "Almost a decade ago, we dreamed that civics would spread like a wildfire across Liberia" said Ms. Crayton. "The only way for democracy to thrive is with participation from citizens, and that starts with education."

There are still some major steps moving forward in the rollout plan. The partners will need to find funding for continued teacher training and textbooks. CSI Country Representative Otis S. Bundor says he is up for the challenge.

"Whose lives will change forever because they learned to solve their problems peacefully? Which student will grow up to become the next senator because she fell in love with learning the law and serving her community?" asked Bundor. "We don't know, but we're excited that the future will be in their hands."

Also, Mrs. Celecia Tartee Reeves, President, County Education Officers (CEO) and CEO of Montserrado County, expressed how excited she and other colleagues are for the return of civics in primary schools.

About Child Steps International (CSI): CSI is a registered non-governmental organization in the Republic of Liberia, established in 2012. Child Steps International is also a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit with offices in Washington, D.C. CSI launched the LAW+YOU Civics Curriculum as a pilot in Liberian schools in 2013. In May 2016, the LAW+YOU curriculum was launched as an interactive, low/no literacy community program. In 2016, the LAW+YOU Radio Show brought the civics curriculum to listeners across Liberia. In 2020, CSI's LAW+YOU became part of a national civics initiative in partnership with the Ministry of Education in Liberia and OSIWA.

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