Sanoyea, Bong County – The Ministry of Education on Friday, July 19, extolled the education focused international NGO, Bridge International Academy, of being supportive to the educational sector of Liberia over the years. The assertion was made at the K-2 and 6-grade graduation exercises of the Sanoyea Elementary Public School, one of the Bridge’s sponsored schools in Sanoyea District in Bong County.
MOE’s Communications Director and Public Relations, J. Maxim Bleetan, who proxy for Bong County Education Officer Rev. Armah Varfee as guest speaker of the occasion, said over the years the Bridge International Academy has contributed immensely toward the improvement of education in the country.
Speaking on the topic, “Taking the Mess Out to Get the Best”, Bleetan said Bridge International Academy has helped to improve the reading skills of students and the training of teachers who are deeply involved with the nursery and elementary levels.
“If you can bear me witness, since Bridge International took over the school, the way some of your children used to read slow, I think their reading speed has doubled,” Bleetan challenged.
The MOE Communications Director then frowned at parents who are reportedly involved in giving their girl children into early marriage and taking their children from the regular school to the Poro and Sande societies to discontinue. However, he clarified: “Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that our culture should not be practiced but let us do it during the vacation time so that we can give chance to our children to complete the school year.”
“You are impeding your girl child’s future those of you who are involved in giving your girl children into early marriage. You need to allow the girl children to make their own decision when they are matured,” Bleetan stated.
He informed parents that the Education Ministry is in negotiation with Bridge International on how the program can be extended since the pilot phase is almost fading out.
The principal of the school, David Kezelie, said when Bridge took over the school in 2016, eleven teachers of the school were selected by Bridge following the administration of an aptitude test and the teachers underwent a month-long intensive training.
Mr. Kezelie said through the intervention of Bridge, two of the volunteered teachers were placed on government’s payroll.
He informed the gathering that when Bridge took over in 2016, the enrolment increased from 305 to 565 and that number has not dropped.
The Country Director of Bridge Griffin Asigo said his institution’s main objective is to work with the Ministry of Education in creating an enabling conducive learning environment through the training of teachers and the provision of essential textbooks for students and teachers.
According to Asigo, in Bridge’s partnered schools, reading skills of students have tremendously improved; adding, “When we took over, our assessment showed that less than 50% of students was able to read at least 21 words per minute but since our involvement the students are capable to read 60 words per minute only 6% is still struggling to read.
“Good number of the teachers is not on government payroll as the result, it kills the self-esteem of the teachers but we hope that the Ministry of Education along with Government of Liberia would work in that direction to place those volunteer teachers on payroll,” Asigo pleaded.
He said as part of the partnership the Ministry of Education is to ensure that every child has a teacher that teachers are placed on government payroll and that learning is taking place every day.
He said his institution is operating in 10 of the 15 counties.
Eighty-four students received certificates following completion of the nursery and six grade classes, while some of the teachers were also honored for their outstanding commitment to duties.