Monrovia – The acting Chairman of the National Education Coalition of Liberia (NECOL), Moses B. Jackson said out of the total 44,000 teachers found in 5,000 primary and secondary schools in Liberia, 22,000 are unqualified to teach in the classroom.
Delving into the local and global education status, Mr. Jackson said the world is far off track on achieving international commitments to education because for several years now, no progress has been made on access to primary and secondary education.
Only one in two young people complete secondary school, he said; adding that those who are in school, fewer than one in two, reach a minimum level of proficiency in reading and mathematics by the end of primary education.
In sub-Saharan Africa, only one in ten do so, while the percentage of trained teachers is trending downwards.
Despite these short comings, he noted that nothing much is being done to improve the system.
“Instead of governments committing more resources and energy to clean the mess, the percent of the national budget allotted for the Education Sector has been extremely minimum and unrealistic for regular education management; as a consequence in Liberia, teachers do not genuinely teach and students do not genuinely learn,” he said.
Mr. Jackson made the assertions at the start of NECOL’s first general assembly currently ongoing in Monrovia.
According to Mr. Jackson, the three-day event is organized to formally introduce and articulate its vision toward the improvement of education in the country.
Speaking further, he said “students are still sitting on logs in classrooms or toting seats on their heads to school; there is still overcrowdings whereby 100 students are placed in a single classroom to learn; due to low salaries and lack of incentives for teachers, sex and money for grade has become normal; creation of body women in the schools; uncontrollable corporal punishment or operant conditioning as in the Soltiamon school situation.”
The Soltiamon School case involving a student, who was severely beaten by her teacher for leaving the classroom without permission to cater to her menses.
He outlined the existence of 18th century one-room schools with one teacher for a whole school; profound shortage of textbooks and instructional materials, poor or non-existent sanitation and toilet facilities at many schools are some of the challenges grappling the education sector of Liberia.
The first general assembly is being sponsored by Oxfam and other partners. The event brought together over 100 local and international participants.
Jackson, speaking further, revealed that the event is geared toward strategizing ways in addressing Liberia’s challenging’ education sector.
“Fortunately, when you leave here on Friday you will be enlightened and empowered in your roles as NECOL members, partners or collaborators ready to initiate and/or implement “EFA” activities and projects, and conduct aggressive and diplomatic EFA advocacies, if you have not already started,” he said.
NECOLE comprises of several pro-education organization including its founding members the National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL), Diversified Educators Empowerment Project (DEEP) and Society of Professional Educators in Liberia (SOPEL), among others.
The coalition’s activities, he said, is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) – 4, which calls for inclusive and equitable quality education for all.
Also speaking, Lawrence Akubori of OXFAM stressed the importance of advocating for education, adding that “the result cannot be felt immediately but it will bear fruits after 15-20 years.”
He said education helps an individual become a responsible citizen and have a lasting positive impact on a country’s development.