Liberia: Framework and Strategy Drawn up at UNESCO-MOE ICT in Education Policy Workshop
MONROVIA – UNESCO Liberia over the weekend ended a two-day workshop in Monrovia on ICT in Education, with participants building a consensus on a framework and strategy for a draft national policy on ICT in Education in country.
The workshop is part of a UNESCO-CFIT project sponsored by the People’s Republic of China in collaboration with Liberia’s Ministry of Education.
The formulation of an ICT in Education policy is Phase II of UNESCO-China Funds in Trust project on “Enhancing Teacher Education for Bridging the Education Quality Gap in Africa.”
Participants said such a national policy must coordinate and integrate ICT intothe country’s curriculum and at all schools and learning institutions in this West African nation.
The project titled, Enhancing Liberia Teacher Education Program through Information Communication Technology Pedagogy, has as target groups, teacher-educators, pre-service teachers and in-service teachers at the exciting four teacher training institutes in Liberia.
Among other areas, participants in the ICT in Education workshop also came from the Teacher Training Institutes: the Zorzor Rural Teacher Training Institute (ZRTTI) in Zorzor, Lofa County, Webbo Rural Teacher Training Institute, Webbo District, River Gee County, Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI) in Margibi County, and the W. V. S. Tubman Teacher College at the University of Liberia in Monrovia.
They broadly agreed that the mission of a national ICT in Education policy is to enhance the quality of learning throughout the country.
Such a policy, they said, must ensure that requisite funding be allotted for ICT in Education programs with the necessary monitoring and evaluation mechanism be put in place, the participants agreed at the two-day workshop held at the UN headquarters in Monrovia.
They reviewed the situation of ICT in education in Liberia with the lack of a national policy to guide and coordinate ICT in education programs in Liberia and the enormous challenges posed to development of the country’s education system.
In thematic reports presented at the end of the exercise organized by the UNESCO office in Liberia in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, they highlighted the need for government and partners to pave the way by improving and strengthening existing facilities and programs in the education sector.
They believe Liberia stands to benefit immensely if it succeeds in drafting and implementing a comprehensive ICT in Education in the next few years.
Participants outlined some of the benefits as “easy access to research materials by students and teachers, modernization of current learning and teaching methods, eradication of academic fraud, as well as exposure of students and teachers to new global trends in education”.
Other benefits mentioned following the thematic group discussions include: opportunity for secondary and tertiary institutions in Liberia to join global partnerships and networks with other institutions abroad and enabling all schools to have comprehensive databases of current students and staff members as well as past ones.
Participants have at the same time urged UNESCO, the Education Ministry and partners to include institutions in the country involved with ICT education and business in every phase of preparatory activities aimed at adapting technology in the country’s education programs.
Some of the challenges in the way of a possible ICT in Education Policy identified by participants include “lack of adequate trained personnel and limited and unstable energy supply.”
The head of the UNESCO office in Liberia, Mr. Stevenson Seidi said it is time that learning institutions graduate from using the chalk board and advance to using equipment in Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the classrooms.
He noted that Liberia has come of age and needs to move along with technology, stressing how appalling it is that even at the level of tertiary institutions, chalk boards are still in use.
Speaking earlier on the final day of the workshop, one of the Facilitators, Mr. Moses Blonkanjay Jackson commended participants for the enthusiasm they demonstrated especially for prospects of a comprehensive ICT program in Liberian schools.
Mr. Jackson, former Assistant Education Minister for Teacher’s Education then assured them that whatever contributions they have made would go a long way in drafting the ICT in Education policy, which he said is necessary for guidance. Participants in the ICT in Education workshop were drawn from the Zorzor Rural Teacher Training Institute (ZRTTI) in Zorzor, Lofa County, Webbo Rural Teacher Training Institute, Webbo District, River Gee County, Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI) in Margibi County, and the W. V. S. Tubman Teacher College at the University of Liberia in Monrovia.