Liberia: Applied Scholastics Liberia Team Calls for Competency-Based Learning at All Levels

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MONROVIA – While the COVID-19 crisis continues to dominate, its inevitable passing will bring forward the deeper, enduring threat to life in the region: widespread illiteracy. 

To combat this stark reality and building on 15 years of successful human rights and literacy programs in West Africa, Liberian Joseph Yarsiah and American lawyer Tim Bowles – along with U.S. educator Colin Taufer and their local volunteer team – have recently renewed a vital initiative to improve learning effectiveness with a series of teacher and student workshops and collaborations in Monserrado, Margibi, and Bong counties.

Along with many inspired West African youth leaders, Yarsiah and Bowles created the African Human Rights Leadership Campaign in 2006. Since that time, they have activated thousands of young people of the region as human rights educators, teaching by example and deed. 

Ebola (2014-2016) and the destruction it inflicted upon the instruction of the youth population changed Yarsiah’s and Bowles’s perspectives. “As illiteracy clearly fueled that horrifying epidemic, we realized that ineffective education is the most destructive human rights violation,” said Yarsiah. “It makes possible violations of the remainder of the 30 articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”  

“We have thus partnered since 2016 with Applied Scholastics International,” Bowles explained. “Through its successes in several African countries and worldwide, the organization is clearly qualified to offer a viable solution to illiteracy through the proven effective learning methods of American author and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard, widely known as ‘Study Technology’ or ‘Study Tech.’ The methodology – one that I used to greatly advance my law school studies in the 1970s – is undeniably effective in the improvement of student comprehension and application. Time and again, I have seen Study Tech enable young people to discover or recover the true joy of learning so vital to competence and lasting benefit to themselves and their communities.”

Naming their initiative the African Literacy Campaign (ALC), Yarsiah and Bowles have worked over the past five years with local youth leaders and a series of accomplished American and South African educators to introduce Study Tech to Liberia’s ministries, policymakers, teachers and students.  ALC programs have included repeated teacher and student pieces of training in greater Monrovia, Kakata, and Tubmanburg;  ● three years of delivery (2017-2019) through AMEU Monrovia’s “Vacation Bridge” high school-college transition program;  and ● briefings to top government leaders and policymakers.  

“With the prospect of expanding vaccination protection, it was time to refire the campaign to its pre-pandemic levels and beyond,” observed Yarsiah.  Bowles added, “The pandemic’s individual isolation and institutional fragmentation have persisted for well-longer than most could have envisioned.  It is great to finally be back in Liberia to once again offer such life-giving assistance to this remarkable country.”

Long-term Florida educator and experienced school administrator Colin Taufer was also enthusiastic. “The reception to our trainings has been very gratifying, including Ministry of Education managers, Educate West Point teachers and staff, and youth leader groups in Kakata and Monrovia.  We trust the collaborative pilot programs forming with key public and private institutions will grow to enduring partnerships.”

Mr. Yarsiah was similarly positive.  “Those blessed with the tools and opportunity to improve societal conditions, particularly in the educational sector, have the responsibility to do so.  Our mission is to empower the greatest resource we have – our youth – with the means to achieve in their lifetimes what we have all dreamed, a nation again educated, economically dynamic, culturally vibrant, and at lasting peace.”

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