Ministry of Education, Partners To Launch New Curriculum for Liberian School
Ganta, Nimba County – The Ministry of Education (MOE) in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with support from the government of Sweden has embarked on rewriting the curriculum for Liberia’s school system.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
MOE and partners launched the process in Ganta, Nimba County with a two-week national syllabus writing workshop that brought together key stakeholders of the educational sector.
Speaking to journalist at the end of the seminar over the weekend, the Executive Director for the Center of Excellence for Curriculum Development and Textbooks Research, Mrs. Mardia Herring-Mensah said that the current national curriculum has outlived its lifespan and it is time for reform.
By doing so, Mrs. Herring-Mensah said the new curriculum will be based on competency where students will acquire skills alongside the academic aspects; thus doing away with the content-based syllabus that does not derive skills.
She revealed that the new curriculum for both public and private schools will include comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) to promote reproductive health, peacebuilding, human rights, general history of Africa and other emerging issues that are based on skills development rather than content development.
According to her, the reason behind the introduction of CSE is to raise awareness on social issues such as teenage pregnancy and drug abuse that impede the students’ learning process.
Director Herring-Mensah: “The reason why you hear us talking about this is not just because of reproductive health. If you look around Liberia today, you will notice that a lot of our young people are on drugs; and drug and alcohol abuse come with vulnerability. So they are drinking alcohol and taking in these drugs, and they don’t know what is happening to them.”
She continued: “And we are not just speaking about females, we are speaking about males as well. We must be cognizant of what’s going on and we must be able to correct the abuses that are going on by providing the knowledge and skills that they will need to say no and be able to make positive decisions for themselves.”
She further noted that before its adoption, the new curriculum will be tested during its pilot phase and subsequently distributed in the 15 counties of Liberia.
In a special statement at the closing ceremony, Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Ingrid Wetterqvist welcomed the introduction of human rights and reproductive health into the curriculum and noted that the “Embassy of Sweden sees comprehensive sexuality education(CSE) as part of the broader work to protect, invest in and empower young people to achieve their fullest potential.”
Ambassador Wetterqvist said CSE provides young people information and skills to protect girls from unwanted pregnancies, reduce their risk to STIs and HIV/AIDS; reduce their vulnerability to sexual and gender-based violence and ensure that they have access to sexual and reproductive health care services including family planning and HIV services.
In addition, she said if young people have the information and relevant skills, they can better protect their sexual reproductive health and rights.
“The economic argument can be seen as such that neglecting to invest in young people sexual and reproductive health and rights leads to depletion of valuable human resources. Furthermore, early parenthood is associated with greater poverty. Young women who become pregnant are often unable to continue schooling,” she averred.
The Swedish diplomat added that experience has shown that comprehensive sexuality education can contribute to gender equality goals.
She advised that in order for CES to be effective, it should merge with other strategies including keeping girls in school as long as possible, provision of universal access to qualified sexual and reproductive health care and information and training of healthcare personnel as well as equipping facilities to make sexual and reproductive health services more youth friendly.
Also speaking, UNFPA Country Representative, Dr. Oluremi Sogunro stressed that the success of CES in the various schools will be a big boost in the ongoing fight against Festula in that it will curb teenage pregnancy; one of the leading causes of the complication.
Dr. Sogunro added that the availability of libraries and laboratories are cardinal to the educational sector and as such there is a need to ensure that schools are furnished with them.
“Teenage pregnancy is one of the worst things that can ever happen to any youth. It affects both boys and girls. And Festula is one of the complication of teenage pregnancy because the sexual organ of the girl is not well developed. It has social stigma,” Dr. Sogunro noted.