Vice President Boakai Calls For Improved Incentives For Teachers

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Margibi County -Vice President Joseph Boakai has stressed the need for teachers’ income to improve in order for Liberia to obtain the outcomes needed in taking the educational system from mess to best.

“As you train the people you have to keep them in the classrooms and you do that by looking after them, providing quality place to live and better compensation”, Vice President Boakai said.

Vice President Boakai continued: “I always joke in cabinet and say sometimes we pretend to pay the people, the people pretend to work, we should be able to work in both ways, we should improve their living condition by the quality of work they do, so that they too can be able to take care of their own problem, we know that this is one of the difficult parts but without quality and committed teachers you can’t have a country.”

The Vice President spoke in Kakata at the graduation of teachers who will form part of the Bridge Partnership School program.

The Vice President said without quality education Liberia is unable to achieve her developmental agenda adding that quality teachers play a major role in achieving such vision. 

“All us of know that without quality education you can’t build a nation and without quality teachers none of us will be here today,” he said.

Vice President Boakai expressed optimism in the teachers adding that they are best place to take the system from mess to best.

“The President was on record one time saying our education system is a mess, now we say we are going to the best, as we train the teachers there is a need to have more females in the classroom, we have a lot of good people,” Vice President Boakai said.

Assistant Minister Teacher Education Adventus Orea Wright said that the private partnership school is a new idea adding that it will create anxiety.

“We know that this process has created a lot of anxiety and I’m sure it will continue, the concept of private provider managing few public schools is new so it will create anxiety but we still need to give it a chance,” Wright said.

Minister Wright called on the teachers to remain hopeful adding that at the end of the process students output will improve.

“Please let us remain hopeful, optimist that at the end of this process, learning outcomes of our students will drastically improve, for those of you would participated in the training we say bravo, just by sitting here we were able to witness change, you will be able to integrate technology in the classroom,” Wright said.

In spite of all of the confidence and optimist been placed in the teachers to take up the new challenge, a mini protest erupted from teachers who were dropped from the program. The teacher’s claim that Bridge promise them to be assigned to schools forming part of the program but Bridge Partnership School says that the teachers were not dropped but rather on the stand by listing.

One of the protesting teachers Othello Marshall in angry tone expressed frustration in the program adding that they were vetted before coming for the training and as such no one should have been dropped. 

“Out of three hundred and some student on campus, less than one hundred and forty were selected to form part of the process, what become of the other teachers”, said Marshall.

“We wrote the Ministry of Education and Bridge authority because we were sensing this but there was no respond, in fact our communication was not given credence, you brought teachers from their homes who were doing private school jobs and their normal hustle than you toke them from there with the high expectation that after the training you will employ them, at the end of the training you told the teachers that the fifty schools you should have work with the government took 25 from you, yesterday government took three from them they are left with twenty-two schools”, he added.

He said, that bulk of the teachers protesting are worried about been out of jobs adding that they have abandon their jobs with the hope of taking up their new assignment in September.

“What becomes of us, we abandoned our jobs and you know private schools you will signed ten months contract, when your contract expires if you do not reapplied it means you do not have interest in the job and now they are telling us that we do not have any place, that is why bulk of the teachers are out here protesting”, Marshall continued.

He said, that if the educational sector must change teachers are to be taken seriously.

“I’m highly disappointed, if the educational system in this country must change you must change the lives of those who will change the system, you change the system and leave the teachers out”, he lamented.

The Deputy Director for Bridge Partnership School Joe Gbasakollie said that program invited teachers who passed the vetting test and agreed to be a part of the program.  

Gbasakollie averred that he’s cognizant of the fact that they cannot achieve their ambitious goal without having qualified teachers in the classroom.

“In July of this year bridge visited all selected partnership schools to invite those teachers and administrators who passed its vetting test and agreed to be part of the program, bridge additionally invited RTTIs graduates who passed our vetting process as part of the government efforts to increase the teacher’s pool in Liberia,” Gbasakollie said.

Gbasakollie continued: “In total over three hundred and twenty teachers entered this program and are prepared to enter classroom by September , the training provided opportunity to upgrade new method and technology to teaching to use in the partnership school and new way to interact with students and parents”.

Recalling Bridge entry Gbasakollie said that in March this year the government of Liberia through the Ministry of Education and the Bridge Academies signed a memorandum of understanding to pilot bridges academic program that has been tested and found to be a success in some other countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and India.

Bridge is a public private partnership which aim is to rapidly increase literacy and numeracy skills outcome for primary students, to improve the Ministry of Education ability to monitor and access learning outcomes at the primary level, schools under the partnership will be free.

Bridge will operate twenty three schools in eight counties under this pilot; the pilot is expected to improve learning outcomes of approximately 12,000 pupils at primary level.

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