Department of Education Report to LAC 2012

DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL EDUCATION & MINISTRY

REPORT TO

LIBERIA ANNUAL CONFERENCE/THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

MARCH THROUGH DECEMBER 2011

 PROGRESS

NUMBER OF SCHOOLS:

There are 142 recorded United Methodist Schools (UMS) in Liberia, however, the Department of General Education and Ministry (DGEM) has knowledge of 82 United Methodist schools that are operating in school buildings or churches during the 2011/2012 academic year.  DGEM received statistics from 58 schools with a total of 15,220 students.

 SCHOOL VISITATION:

Since March 2009, DGEM has visited 53 United Methodist schools in 18 United Methodist Districts.  During the current Conference year (March through December 2011), the Department visited 27 schools in 11 United Methodist Districts.  During these visits, DGEM delivered supplies and funds, observed classes, met with school staff and local school board members, participated in teacher and school board training and investigated allegations of malpractice on the part of administration and teachers.

The Jemima Camp Freeman United Methodist School in Voinjama City, Lofa County is just one example of the buildings that are yet to be restored after the civil war.  In November 2011 the Director met with the administration of the Voinjama public school, the District Education officer and the Lofa County Education Officer, Augustus Y. Smith. They all expressed the need to renovate and open the entire United Methodist elementary school building which has 7 classrooms and 2 offices.  3 of the classrooms are currently used by the public kindergarten.

In December 2011, Gunilla Ikponmwosa, the Executive Secretary of the Board of Global Ministries for the United Methodist Church in Sweden came to Liberia to visit schools that are supported by the Church in Sweden.  In 5 days we were able to visit 5 schools in 5 counties.

STANDARDS: An act to revise the Education Law of 2001 was approved on August 8, 2011.  Basic education in Liberia is now first through ninth grade instead of first through sixth grade.  All teachers and school principals are required to have degrees in Education and/or certificates in teacher training. The Ministry of Education (MoE) also revised the National Curriculum which replaces the curriculum that was last revised in 1996.  DGEM printed copies of the revised Education Law and National Curriculum for our United Methodist schools.  DGEM would like to support our schools in achieving and maintaining required standards.

FUNDING:  DGEM received a grant of US$5000 from MOE for 2nd semester of the 2010/2011 academic year.  The grant was used for printing report cards, plan books, roll books, and voucher books; purchasing tools for the Vocational Training Unit’s carpentry class at Gbarnga Mission Station; staff salaries and bank charges. DGEM also received US$5,000 from MOE for the 1st semester of the 2011/2012 academic year for printing report cards, salary arrears at Tappita United Methodist High School, DGEM staff salary support, and bank charges.

In 2011 funds from the United Methodist Church (UMC) in Sweden were received for the following schools:

  • Hope for the Deaf UMS, Monrovia (Monrovia District)- US$7,066.05
  • C. Bennedict Kennedy UMS, Beyon Town (Voinjama District) – U.S. $265
  • J. N. Gwaikolo UMS, Zekepa (Tappita District) – US$265
  • Urias B. Freeman UMS, Robertsport (St. Paul River District) – US$265
  • Foequelleh UMS, Foequelleh (Joequelleh District) – US$125.

William V. S.Tubman Gray United Methodist High School, Gbarnga Mission Station (Gbarnga District) received US$95,536 from the Japanese Embassy to construct an annex.  The construction is nearing completion.  Once completed there will be adequate classrooms for the students to attend the school through 12th grade in one session.  The school now operates morning and afternoon sessions.

J. J. Roberts United Methodist High School received a two-year grant for the English Access Micro Scholarship Program through the American Embassy to teach English and American culture to 15 junior high students from disadvantaged homes. The DGEM Director teaches in this program on Saturday mornings.

The J.J. Roberts Educational Foundation granted DGEM 5 scholarships for continuing United Methodist University students for the 2011/2012 academic year.

DONATION OF SUPPLES: In May 2011 DGEM received 2 “School in a Box Kits” through the Deputy Minister of Instruction for the J. J. Roberts Memorial Siafa-Keh Town UMS, Grand Cape Mount County (St. Paul River District).

The J. J. Roberts United Methodist High School in Monrovia District received science laboratory materials from MoE in October 2011.  MoE promised to also give science laboratory materials to Tubman-Gray United Methodist High School in Gbarnga District and Tappita United Methodist High School in Tappita District.

A forty foot container from the Holston Conference in Tennessee arrived in August 2011. In September 2011 DGEM began distributing the health kits, buckets of food, and backpacks filled with school supplies to our Ministry to the Aging, children living in orphanages, our rural United Methodist schools and employees of the Liberia Annual Conference Central Office.

ACHIEVEMENTS

HAND PUMPS: Students in all Liberian schools should have access to clean drinking water but many of our villages are dependent on creeks for their water supply. Sherman United Methodist Church in Evanston, Illinois, donated US$3,000 for wells and hand pumps which was used by the Water for Life program to install hand pumps at 2 of our village schools in Nimba County (Gompa District)- Garr Dingamon and Gbloryee. Water for Life also installed pumps at J. J. Roberts Memorial Siafa-Keh Town UMS and Urias B. Freeman UMS in St. Paul River District and Cestos UMS in Rivercess District.

 SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: Bishop Innis informed the Director that school renovation and construction funds will come through DGEM and work will be done in collaboration with the Community Services Department.

  • DGEM sends regular reports to Bishop Bennie D. Warner of the Oklahoma Conference on the construction of the New Hope Academy in Mambann Kaba, Lower Magibi (Kakata-Farmington River District).  The Oklahoma Conference is raising funds to build and support the school. 
  • Construction of a school building for the John Kofi Asmah UMS, Monrovia District is nearing completion.  A large part of the funds for this project came from the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.
  • Construction is ongoing for the high school annex at the Harriette E. Bailey UMS.  The school began 11th grade in the 2011/2012 academic year.
  • The annex at the Anderson Weamah UMS in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, (St. Paul River District) was renovated with funds from the Illinois Great Rivers District and is now in use for classrooms.
  • The Oak Grove UMC in Decatur, Georgia is partnering with the Monrovia District to construct an 8 classroom school building in Mount Barclay to educate disadvantaged girls.  The school building is on property owned by the Monrovia District Women.
  • A new school construction project is planned for Gbokonjedeh, Nana Kru District.  Vermilion River District in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference donated US$20,000 for the project.

INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: Working through the Monrovia Rotary Club, Rotary International granted Hope for the Deaf UMS U.S. $10,000.00 to implement an inclusion project with the goal of transitioning 20 deaf students to a nearby high school. The Free Pentecostal Global Mission High School on 10th Street agreed to include our deaf students. The project began on April 26, 2011 with teachers from Hope for the Deaf UMS teaching sign language to the teachers and principal at the high school.  10 former students from Hope for the Deaf UMS and 4 deaf students from other schools are now enrolled in the high school on 10th Street in Sinkor.

The Director was involved in the planning and implementation of workshops on inclusive education sponsored by MoE in collaboration with Sightsavers International held at the Zwedru Multilateral High School, Grand Gedeh County from May 18-19, 2011 and the Golden Gate Hotel in Paynesville from November 23 – 25, 2011 as well as teacher training held at Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI) on December 1 – 2, 2011.

PRINCIPALS’ RETREAT: 27 schools were represented at a principals’ retreat held from July 27 – 29, 2011 at Camphor Mission Station in St. John River District. During the retreat:

  • Principals’ Association held elections.  Rev. James Waterson Bomossee is the President Elect.
  • Principals agreed to provide financial support for the department to purchase a vehicle. The following contributions were received by DGEM:

United Methodist Schools: US$1,890

UMC Sweden: US$3,400

Cllr. N. Oswald Tweh: US$1,000

  • Supervising Principals were assigned by district.
  • Rev. Joseph Garkpee, Director of Christian Education and Julu Swen, Assistant Director of Connectional Ministries attended the retreat to introduce United Methodist Christian Education textbooks to the principals and began distribution of the books for use in the 2011/2012 academic year.

TEACHER CONTRACT: At the Principals’ retreat it was decided that wards would no longer be included in the contract. Cllr. N. Oswald Tweh edited the teacher contract but the Board of General Education would like staff to have one ward paying 50%.

TEACHER TRAINING:

Much of the school vacation months of July and August were spent in training teachers. We are grateful to the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and Operation Classroom Indiana for the volunteers who conducted workshops for our teachers.

The following teacher trainings in phonics, reading, lesson planning and classroom management were conducted in July 2011:

  • Camphor Mission Station – July 11- 22 – for teachers from Grand Bassa, St. John River and Rivercess Districts, sponsored by Operation Classroom Indiana
  • Ganta Mission Station- July 11 and 12- for teachers from Gompa and Tappita Districts, sponsored by Illinois Great Rivers Conference
  • J.J. Roberts United Methodist High School, Sinkor- July 18- 20, refresher training for teachers from 7 Monrovia area schools, sponsored by the Illinois Great Rivers Conference.

K2, first, second and third grade teachers and the vice principal for instruction from the Ganta UMS (Gompa District) and the I.J. Williams UMS (Smell No Taste, Kakata-Farmington River District) participated in the Liberia Reads! training held at Stella Maris Polytechnic University in Monrovia from July 7 to July 23, 2011. The principal from the I. J. Williams UMS also participated.  This intensive phonics-based reading program was developed and sponsored by a former peace core volunteer to Liberia, Geraldine Melosh.

 

In August 2011, the Director joined the District Education Officer, the Master Trainer for MoE and fellow educators from the Liberia Annual Conference to provide training for 184 teachers in the Yarwin Mehnsonnoh District of Nimba County including teachers from 5 United Methodist schools.  This training was held at the Baptist mission in Kwendin, Nimba County.  The Director taught beginning phonics.
STAFF TRAINING:

  • 7 UMS teachers in Grand Bassa County successfully completed the In-Service C Certificate Training sponsored by The European Commission Support to Education in Liberia (ECSEL). Certificates were presented at a program in Buchanan on May 28, 2011.
  • The Associate Director and DGEM Accountant attended 2 three-day trainings on school administration and finance in June 2011.  The trainings were offered by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank.
  • In October 2011 staff persons from Brumskine, J.C. Early, Harriette Bailey, Hope for the Deaf and J. L. Morris UM Schools attended the IFC Financial Management training. Hope for the Deaf principal, David Worlobah, also attended the October 2011 IFC training on school marketing management.
  • The Director, DGEM Cashier and Vice Principal for Instruction from J. L. Morris attended the December 2011 IFC training on Strategic Planning.
  • Associate Director, Rev. Sampson Nyanti, began doctoral studies in Ministry at Wesley Seminary in Washington, D.C.

 

GRADUATING STAFF:

Moses L. Kollie graduated from United Methodist University on August 9, 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.  Mr. Kollie is currently the DGEM warehouse manager and cashier.

 

GRADUATING PRINCIPALS:

Cuttington University, Masters in Education:

Rev. M. Barcon Borbor, Sr., W.L.P. Brumskine UMS, Buchanan (Grand Bassa District)

Rev. P. Harvey Willie, William V. S. Tubman Gray UMS, Gbarnga (Gbarnga District)

 

University of Liberia, Masters in Education:

Rev.Karyidia P. Gartor- George V. Gibson UMS, Kakata (Kakata Farmington River District).

 

DGEM congratulates these graduates and thanks them for their efforts to improve the quality of Education in the United Methodist School System.

 

 

CHALLENGES:

  • MoE extended free education to ninth grade.
  • All teachers must have a teaching certificate or degree in education by January 2015.
  • In-service training will no longer be provided by the Rural Teacher Training Institutes as (in theory) teachers should be trained before they enter the classroom.
  • The salary of government teachers was raised to a minimum of $100 per month.
  • Liberian students will participate in the West Africa Senior Studies Exam which requires that schools have functional libraries and science laboratories.
  • Schools should have indoor flush toilets.

MoE made these decisions to positively impact education in Liberia, but at the same time, they force us to meet many challenges:

  • Parents are finding it difficult to pay tuition to attend private school when they know that government schools are free.  Most United Methodist schools depend on tuition to pay salaries and have funds for day to day operations.  Many schools cannot pay teachers or buy supplies.
  • In the rural areas most teachers at government and private schools do not have teaching certificates or degrees- they are not qualified teachers.  Now that the teacher training centers no longer offer in-service training, we must provide non government in-service training that meets the government criteria for certification.
  • Qualified teachers are leaving United Methodist schools to teach at government schools and receive government pay.
  • Our high schools do not have functioning science laboratories.  MoE has agreed to provide laboratory equipment to 3 of our 16 high schools.
  • Most of our schools do not have functioning libraries.
  • We are still trying to install hand pumps and latrines at all our schools.  In the future we will need to have indoor flush toilets.

 LAND LEASE: The land lease for the J. C. Early UMS in Buchanan (St. John River District) expired on January 31, 2011.  The school is currently operating without a lease.

SCHOLARSHIP: Beginning in the 2011/2012 academic year, DGEM will award scholarships strictly based on availability of funds that can be paid to schools at time of registration.  DGEM is currently paying tuition owed to schools for the 2010/2011 academic year.

SCHOOL CLOSINGS: Foquelleh UMS (Joequelleh District), Loyee UMS (Tappita District), Galepa-Nyeinkpalah UMS (Gompa District) and Ada Ann Wright UMS (Grand Bassa District) did not open in the 2011/2012 academic year due to lack of funds. The administration of the Foequelleh UMS and the Galepa-Nyeinkpalah UMS would like the school buildings to be used to operate community schools.

SCHOOL UNIFORMS: Mrs. Beryline Togba of J & B Enterprises hired a carpenter to install shelves in the DGEM office to store United Methodist School uniforms; however, new uniforms were delivered to DGEM on October 31, 2011.  The uniforms were expected prior to the August 30, 2011 start of the 2011/2012 academic year.

 STUDENT HEALTH INSURANCE: Some of the schools in Montserrado, Margibi, and Grand Bassa Counties collected funds for student health insurance, but did not remit the funds to Mutual Benefits Assurance Company.

We are very appreciative for the support that our schools continue to receive from many United Methodist Conferences and the Ministry of Education.  We are also thankful for the support and cordial working relationship of the DGEM staff, the staff of the Liberia Annual Conference, and Bishop John G. Innis for his constant communication and responsiveness.

Respectfully submitted by,

Helen Roberts-Evans

Director, DGEM

January 2, 2012