Bridge Partnership Schools Making Giant Leap
Monrovia – Following damning criticisms from many facets of the society including key stakeholders in the educational sector over the Public Private Partnership (PPP) for schools endorsed by the Government of Liberia, it appears that the section of the program is yielding tangible results.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh – [email protected]
On a tour with a team of journalists on Wednesday, February 8 at the Upper Careysburg School, and In-Touch Elementary Schools, Bridge, one of the implementers of the PPP appears to be making some progress at schools part of the program.
There are about 96 schools in the PPP and Bridge is running 25 of them in eight counties.
“The partnership school is new in Liberia.”
“So when something is new, there has to be various reactions to them; starting with information dissemination to parents trying to access what it means for their children. “
“So the parents, teachers and the kids are now excited,” explained Marcus S. Wleh, Country Director of Bridge Partnership Schools for Liberia.
He said although the schools are working with the MOE’s curriculum and other guidelines, the program is exceptional because of the level of innovative services and robust monitoring systems to ensure teachers are up to the tasks.
He stressed that the success story of Bridge and the MOE partnership was a clear manifestation of the government’s ability to provide quality education to public schools students at a low cost.
“The most important thing is the discipline. The quality of instruction, teacher attendance, student attendance—those are very key because without them, you cannot have a good school,” Wleh noted.”
“So Bridge is doing it differently; and as you know this is intended to demonstrate that the government of Liberia can provide high quality education to public school students at a very minimum cost, using the most advance form of teaching that you can find anywhere and in any school across the world.”
The Country Director further added that another important factor behind his organization’s success story thus far has been the reception of the communities towards the partnership.
He noted that with the level of collaborations from the communities through the PTA, the public schools are expected to improve within the coming years.
“This is not something that will harm our students’ interests, but promote their interests.”
“Everybody is excited. Hopefully in the coming years all public schools will be on par with the private schools,” Wleh averred.
Also speaking, the Public Relations Director of Bridge Partnership Schools for Liberia, Lloa Bass Golokeh, said Bridge is not only involved with the teachers and students, but also with the community through the Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) so that together they can work to create a favorable learning environment for the students.
“The partnership is also interested in school and community management and engagement, making sure that the community is aware with what is happening in their school. And to give us feedback as we work with them not only for the benefit of the students but also so that coming up in the future, we can make better strides in making sure that the schools are meeting the standards that they need for their community,” Golokeh said.
Parents, Teachers and Students’ Response
Irene Jallah, sponsor of the Upper Careysburg School, told FrontPageAfrica that the pupils are responding to their lessons, noting that the use of electronic devices including tablets and computers for lesson planning and presentation have made it easier for the students to grasp the lesson.
“Those who are saying that Bridge is not up to the task are really misleading us, because when I came here first, I used to hear complaints from majority of the children, to even read was not easy. “
“But now the children are really picking up. Majority of the students are really picking up,” Jallah noted.
Jallah’s sentiments were echoed by Munah Kollie, a parent of three children at the Upper Careysburg Elementary School.
“Since Bridge took over our school, our children future has been changed. Because we see our children learning, and reading better, and when they go home they perform well in their lesson,” Kollie said.
“For the past years, things were difficult – the teachers did not use to come to class always when the school was controlled by government, but since Bridge came, our teachers come on time and teach our children.”
She said activities at the school are normal and teachers are doing their best.
“Next year our dream is to build an annex to accommodate the other children who were not allowed or lucky to enroll because of limited space,” Madam Kollie added.
Students Joseph and Memie of the 6th grade class of the In-Touch Elementary School, smartly dressed in their sky blue uniforms thanked Bridge for the level of improvement at their school and called on them to construct new pit latrine for the school.
“The lesson this year is good. We are learning faster as compared to last year,” said Joseph. We appealed to Bridge to build new latrine for us.”
“We want to call on Bridge to provide feeding for us,” added Memie.
However, there are several factors posing serious impediments to the students’ learning process. Journalists touring the Upper Careysburg Elementary School observed that the campus lack proper sanitary services.
The school principal, Martin Flomo, said the lack of proper latrine facilities and feeding program are some problems affecting the students.
Flomo said most students come to class hungry and by mid-day, they are tired and weary to continue their learning. He said the situation is bad for the students because the pupils spent nine hours daily at school.
But Bridge’s Public Relations Director noted that her organization was not responsible to engage in construction and school feeding program under the agreement with the government of Liberia. Golokeh, however noted that there is need to work with the community, the government and other partners to address the situation.