Liberia: New Hope Academy Honors Best Performing Students, Teachers

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Back- (l-r) NHA Coordinator Morris Johnson, BFF Boss Augustine Arkoi, MoE Assistant Minister Dominic Kweme, NHA Principal Robert Boi, BFF Associate Belvis Odiaji & K-II Class Sponsor Hannah Gba pose with the graduates

MONROVIA – The New Hope Academy (NHA), located on Peace Island in Jacobs Town, Monrovia, has honored 14 of its best forming students, including eight girls and four boys for the academic year 2020/2021.

Also honored at program marking the 20th Thanksgiving and Closing exercises of the NHA to promote nine KG students to grade one were three teachers for dedication, neatness and punctuality while five other students were given their flowers for good academic performance, discipline, punctuality, and best dressed uniform.

The top three dux were students Trisha A. Gbaryu of KG-II with 96.6% Grade Point Average (GPA); Arthur Yarbah of ABC Class with 96% GPA and Kebeh Freeman of KG-I with 95% GPA.

Serving as a keynote speaker at the program, Assistant Minister of Education for Planning, Research and Development, Dominic Kweme, applauded the school administration and teachers for their dedication in preparing the students who are the nation’s future leaders.

He encouraged the students to remain steadfast and focused as they strive for education which is not only light in darkness but also the best way out of poverty and for effective contribution to society development and progress.

Assistant Minister Kweme indicated that the good academic performances of the students were partly demonstrated by the heartwarming and delightful roles they played at the closing program which was also graced by hundreds of parents and other invited guests.

Minister Kweme used the occasion to encourage parents in Jacobs Town, Paynesville, and its nearby communities on Peace Island to take advantage of the presence of the New Hope Academy in the community by sending their children to the school for quality learning.

Minister Kweme, further delivering his closing address, recalled that Liberia’s educational system was once described by former Liberian President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as a “Mess.”

“This is like when I come to your house and you say all the children in the house are not learning at all. I will believe you because you are the head of the house,” he told the gathering.

Minister Kweme added: “This is the climate we inherited when we were given the mantle to manage the educational system of Liberia.” In a rhetorical fashion, he asked: “How do we change the narrative?”

According to the Assistant Education Minister, “Grading system was only the 12 grade WASSCE” (West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations).

“Now we have instituted the 6th and 9th grade national exams. We have intervened in the WASSCE fees payment to lessen the burdens on parents. And we have reformed the educational curriculum from content- based to competency -based curriculum. There is more in the pipeline and the process is ongoing,” he stressed.

Assistant Minister Kweme informed the audience that the Ministry of Education (MoE) is dedicated to enforcing its laws and policies including the approved academic calendar which every stakeholder must abide by.

He noted that it is MoE’s law that a student in 9th grade must complete high school in that school and a 12th grade student is not allowed to move to another school across the country.

Additionally, he revealed that no student who has failed in a class is allowed to transfer to another school and register for the next class.

“If that happens, please inform the Ministry of Education and we will ensure that the student repeats the class he or she has failed in,” Mr. Kweme told the gathering which included students, parents and other educators.

Meanwhile, in a gesture of goodwill, Minister Kweme has committed himself to pay the school fees, buy uniform, books and bag for the overall dux in the school, Ms. Trisha A. Gbaryu of grade one.

Further moved by the school’s honoring policy, Minister Kweme has offered that he will be responsible to purchase a school uniform set for the best dressed student, Monica Carter, who has been promoted to grade eight for the next academic year 2021/2022.

Earlier, the valedictorian, Trisha A. Gbaryu, spoke on early childhood education in her address in which she advocated for support for both the school and students while advising her peers to follow the steps of good people in the society who will make positive impacts in their lives.

For his part, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Better Future Foundation (BFF), Augustine Arkoi, pledged his institution’s commitment, and use of its multipurpose educational complex to compliment efforts of the Government of Liberia to achieve quality learning outcome in the country.

Mr. Arkoi, who is also Proprietor of the New Hope Academy and a civil society leader, challenged Liberian youth and students to emulate the good example of Minister Kweme, who never evaded or abused youth development and mentorship opportunities that were available to him when he was a youth.

He lauded Minister Kweme who is a product of the Better Future Foundation (BFF), through its subsidiary youth development program, Youth Beyond Barriers (YBB), for his insightful keynote address to the KII graduates and efforts being made by the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Education to improve the nation’s educational system.

New Hope Academy, which has, as its Motto: “Sound Mind & Good Moral,” a kindergarten to 12 grade high school is an education pilot project of the Better Future Foundation (BFF).

The school has been legally existing since 1995 and its facility is being used over the years by WAEC/MOE as one of the referral centers for schools in the nearby community that are sitting for the WASSCE.

According to the Vice Principal’s academic year report, there were 276 students comprising 125 boys and 151 girls, constituting 45% and 55% respectively in the 2020/2021 academic year. Also, according to academic statistics, ten of the 14 top performing students (constituting 71%) for the year are girls, while the other four (constituting 29%) are boys.

These achievements, according to Mr. Arkoi, are a result of BFF’s continuous advocacy/programs aimed at promoting female enrolment and retention in school.

It can be recalled that BFF has over the years; and recently conducted a weeklong certificate course in social skills development for adolescent girls at the New Hope Academy with emphasizes in sexual and reproductive health, climate change and environment, women, peace and security.

According to the BFF President, the lead facilitator for the certificate course, Ms. Heidi Toresen of the University of Oslo, Norway, was brought to Liberia while other thematic presenters and scholars came from the UN Human Rights Office, Liberia National Bar Association, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Swedish Embassy accredited near Monrovia.

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