Liberia: Legislators Want LEAP Program Extended to All Public Schools at Education Officers Summit

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L-R Sen. Dallas Gueh, Rep.Johnson Gwaikolo and Bridge Country Director Marcus Wleh

Monrovia – The Senate Committee Chair on Education, Dallas Gueh is recommending that the LEAP Schools program be extended to all public schools in Liberia. LEAP is the acronym of the Liberia Education Advancement Program. It is the new name for the public-private partnership that the Ministry of Education has seven local and international education service providers. The previous name was Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL).

Speaking at the opening of a County Education Officer Summit held by Bridge on 11 September in Monrovia, Senator Gueh said it cannot be fair that some government schools are performing well – thanks to benefitting from the program – while other government schools not in the program lag behind with students learning slowly, if at all.  Bridge is one of the partners of LEAP.

The observation that schools and students not benefitting from LEAP are being disadvantaged is largely based on the findings revealed by an independent study that the Ministry of Education commissioned for the LEAP program in 2016. The study conducted by The Centre for Global Development and Innovations for Poverty Action found that:

The LEAP program raised student learning by 60%, compared to non-LEAP public schools.

LEAP students learn almost twice as fast as their peers in traditional public schools, receiving the equivalent of nearly a full year of additional schooling per year.

Across all schools within the program, teachers were 50% more likely to be in school (60% attendance at program schools versus 40% attendance at traditional schools); and,

Sen. Gueh also used the occasion to reaffirm his support for increasing the budget on education beyond its current standing to at least 25-30 % in every fiscal year.

The Summit brought together over thirty County and District Education Officers from eight counties and included Representative Johnson Gwaikolo of Nimba County – who chairs the House of Representatives’ Education committee, LEAP Coordinator Abraham Dagher and Gbovadeh Gbilia who heads the Ministry Education Delivery Unit (EDU).

Hon. Gwaikolo told the gathering that he is impressed by the level of work that Education Officers are doing nationwide and encouraged them to do more. The Nimba County Lawmaker used the occasion to thank the new administration at the Ministry of Education under the leadership of Prof. D. Ansu Sonii for the reduction in the number of schools allocated to EOs, something according to him will enhance effective monitoring and supervision. He then promised his committee’s commitment to working closely with the MOE as LEAP develops over the next few months. Hon. Gwaikolo praised Bridge and other providers for their commitment to helping advance kids’ education. He expressed his amazement at the technological advancement in government schools today and said that he thought that the technology underpinning Bridge run schools could deliver transformational change in Liberia.

‘The development of our kids is a primary responsibility for all of us’, Representative Johnson Gwaikolo stated.

According to the lead facilitator and Bridge Deputy Country Director, Mr. Joe Gbasakollie, the Summit was the first of two regional summits that Bridge is holding in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry mandates all LEAP partners to conduct formal engagement with County Education Officers to enable the latter to monitor and supervise their work.  Additionally, the summits will empower EOs to hold Bridge accountable for the work it does in the education sector and improve coordination and collaboration among stakeholders at the field level

Bridge Country Director Marcus Wleh commended the Education Officers for their participation and engagement in the summit referring to them as ‘Bosses’ of the most important cause in Liberia; the education advancement of its children. He said Bridge Liberia will remain accountable to the Ministry of education in supporting the sector.

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