Reforming Liberian Schools in Five Easy Steps


By Elliot Wreh-Wilson, Ph.D.
Harper, LIBERIA



The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
December 16, 2015

                  



 
 
 
 

The national conversation on reforming our schools has waned. But reforming our schools should not be complicated.

First, let us begin by reducing class size, especially at the elementary level.  Any first grade, second grade or third grade class with more than 24 students is a zoo, not a class. The teacher must be able to spend at least three quality minutes of class time with each child. At 24 students, and one hour to a class, she has barely two minutes with each child and 12 minutes to spare. The solution is to build more classrooms.

Second: Re-introduce the old “In-Service” teacher training program. Book people call this “professional development.” It works! There, teachers learn new ways to plan and execute coursework. They also learn more efficient ways to do assessment of learning outcomes. Students need to know what they get right and wrong and why. Assessment is essential to learning. But with so many large classes to handle, assessment has taken a back seat at our schools. We need to change that.

Third: Introduce students to technology. Laptops are a necessity, not a luxury anymore. Liberia is certainly in the position to procure just enough to service our schools. We don’t need a laptop for each child; all we need is a computer lab to facilitate computer literacy. We only need twenty-five laptops to a school - one for the lab facilitator and twenty-four for the class, assuming we limit class size to twenty-four.

Fourth: English is our official language. Students who understand English, and can read, write and speak with confidence, tend to do well in all subjects. So, let’s prioritize the teaching of English again. We need to rethink the amount of time we allot to teaching and studying English at our schools.

Fifth: Each year, a good number of Liberian students earn the very coveted magna and summa cum laude distinctions when they complete their baccalaureate degrees. We can place these students in our graduate programs to earn M.A. and M.Sc. degrees that will qualify them for teaching in our high schools and elementary schools. Call this an investment in our children’s education. In gratitude to government, those who earn their graduate degrees may serve up to two years at any of our schools before they can move on. Not too much to ask of them or is it?

Please join the conversation.

 


Author: By Elliot Wreh-Wilson is a professor at William V.S. Tubman University in Harper, LIBERIA. He can be reached at: dewrehwilson@gmail.com

martin scott
Doc, we only need 2 simple steps to reform the Liberian Schools:

Step 1...Abolish our US$80 million Ministry of Education altogether, and use that money to help poor parents who want to take their kids out of poor performing government schools!

Step 2: Pass a law stating that “The state shall protect freedom of educational choice of a pupil and a parent…The state shall finance education of a pupil from the central budget by a voucher and every parent has a right to get a voucher for financing the education of a child who reaches school age.”

The voucher will allow poor parents to opt out of our rotten government schools!

The time has come for poor parents to have school choice too!

martin scott at 08:44PM, 2015/12/16.
Alex Garway
Martin, you see what your opium-smoking habits at Carrol High, and your toi much liquor consumption on your adult life have done to you? Here we are discussing solutions to having out students think critically in such subjects as math, science, reading, etc., AND YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT INDIVIDUAL CHOICE OF SCHOOL AND ABOLISHING THE VERY INSTITUTION VIA WHICH THE REQUIRED PROJECTION AND RECONSTRUCTION SHALL BE CARRIED OUT!

MY FRIEND THIS CONVERSATION IS ABOUT STUDENTS drawing on knowledge and be able to attain world problems solving skills thereby preparing them for the global knowledge of the 21st century!
Alex Garway at 03:20AM, 2015/12/17.
martin scott
Alex, I know you snort cocaine (heh, heh, heh). But your years in government schools did a lot more damage to you than the cocaine you're snorting! Today, You still can't READ!

Here we are talking about "reforming Liberian schools" (look at the heading of Dr. Wreh-Wilson's piece) and YOU are unable to connect the dots to school choice and the abolition of the Ministry of Education.

Let me explain HOW school choice and abolishing the Ministry of Education (MOE) can prepare Liberian students to " attain world problems solving skills thereby preparing them for the global knowledge of the 21st century!"

First, the dictionary definition of the word "reform" means to "change something in order to improve it"..In other words, to IMPROVE the education standard of Liberian students, I'm suggesting that we abolish MOE..Why? Because, for more than 150 years, MOE have NOTHING to improve government schools! It's the same old, same old for every regime! To KEEP expecting these people (MOE) improve our schools is total stupidity!

Second, the educational voucher from the government will allow poor parents to shop around for a private school that will best suit their children. Hey, most illiterate parents (with common sense) ALREADY know that private schools are far superior to public schools.

But if any parent wants to keep his or her child in government school, that's fine. But at least, they NOW have a school choice!

Consumer choice and competition provide the engine that fuels change in our economy. Look at the cell phone industry in Liberia! Because of choice and competition, 1 in every 4 Liberian can afford a cell phone!

If you want to improve Liberian Schools, you have to accept this basic economic fact: Consumer (parents) choice lifts all boats!!!
martin scott at 07:51PM, 2015/12/17.
Kou Gontee
Mr. Martin Scott,DON´T WE HAVE CHOICE OF SCHOOL IN LIBERIA? WE DO!

YOU ARE ACTUALLY OUT OF SYNC REGARDING THE SUBJECT MATTER AND THE SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM - AN EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN A MESS!

WHAT DOES CHOICE OF SCHOOL HAS DO TO WITH REFORMING A NATION´S SCHOOL SYSTEM? NOTHING!

Reforming schools is far far far different from choice of school!

How on earth can you agree with the fact that the heading is "reforming Liberian schools" but at the same time base your VERY SILLY PREMISE on "choice of school"; as if people do not have the freedom of choice of school in Liberia as other parts of the world!

It is better you stay away from a given topic when or if you do not have anything to contribute as is the case regarding the reformation of our school system!

Kou Gontee at 04:20AM, 2015/12/18.
Yini Guva A. Sahn
Dr. Wilson's points are to the point. He has been in the system in Liberia and knows exactly what he is talking about. How can we as Liberians help?

I am in technology and would like to see computers in classrooms in Liberia. From now on, every school built must have a computer lab. The computer lab idea will help students who might not initially afford laptops. Time should be set aside for students to visit the lab daily. We are far behind in everything in Liberia. Liberians are known for critiquing every good idea. No wonder people refer to us as motor-mouths and unproductive fast talking people. We need to park the too much "for-nothing talk" and help our country. I am on board with your ideas Dr. Wilson.
Yini Guva A. Sahn at 06:22AM, 2015/12/18.
martin scott
Kou Goatee--of course we DO have school choice in Liberia!.

But school choice is limited to those who can afford it! I got a superior Catholic education because my parents could afford to send me to Catholic Schools in Liberia!

But a lot of poor parents (with a few exceptions) can NOT afford to send their children to parochial schools or private schools thus committing them to poor performing government schools!

And we all know that the government have done a terrible job of educating our children. For the last 150 years, our government schools, staff by and run by the Ministry of Educational Malpractice (MOE), have been a total disaster!

How about trying something different from the same old crap (top down solutions from MOE) to reform our education system??

I suggest school choice. That means abolishing our US$80 million Ministry of Education altogether, and use that money to help poor parents who want to take their kids out of poor performing government schools!

So how does school choice reform our school system?? Follow the bouncing ball: From school choice to competition to reform (improvement in math, science and language arts!) in Liberian schools!

Step #1: School choice will allow poor parents to take advantage of the opportunity to send their children to private schools with an educational voucher!

Step #2:School choice creates (more) competition. And competition and choice are the engine that will fuel the change (improvement in math, science and language scores!) in our education system!

So, I have a question for you, Kou: How many more years do YOU want to give MOE to "reform" or fix our educational system that's "in a mess"?

Do you have anymore top down solutions that they haven't tried before?? I'm dying to hear from you. I want to hear some of your SMART solutions to "reform Liberian schools"
martin scott at 02:06PM, 2015/12/19.
Garsuah Gborvlehn
Martin Scott, commonsense or logic calls for erecting better classrooms, good books, qualified teachers and school administrators in both public and private schools - a lasting and durable solution to the problem. Your idea of "choice and competition" viz the problem and its CONTEXT is REMOTE, USELESS, AND SENSELESS. Please tell us why your suggestions are not used in any WAEC countries or anywhere on the continent. Martin, this issue IS NOT one of those in which your stupidity may be seen as a jest.
Garsuah Gborvlehn at 02:23PM, 2015/12/20.
martin scott
Garsuah, you're a government school idiot! I'm tempted to make fun of your economic illiteracy (choice and competition), but as you can see, I've decided to ask you some serious questions:

#1)If "common sense or logic calls for erecting better classroom, better books, qualified teachers and school administrator"--how come the so-called educational experts (with masters and Phd's degrees) at the Ministry of education (MOE) are NOT doing what you're suggesting?

#2) Why is it taking more than 150 years for the experts at Ministry of Education to realized that "erecting better classroom, better books, qualified teachers and school administrator" are the common sense or logical way" to reform Liberian schools?

#3) How long will it take for the experts at the Ministry of Education to realize that private and parochial schools in Liberia ALWAYS outperform 90 percent of the government school in WAEC exams?? Hey, aren't these people experts in education??

#4) How about giving the amateurs aka poor parents an educational voucher (school choice)to take their children out of our poor performing government schools?

#5)Here in America, it's very common for ordinary parents, with no training in education (no master's or Phd degree in education), to home school their children and consistently produce better academic results than those of children educated by teachers with Master's degrees and Phd's in government schools! So why are you blaming the lack of "qualified teachers" for the poor performance of our government schools??

#6) How long will YOU and the Ministry of Education play the blame game (lack of better books, lack of better classroom, lack of better teachers, etc) for the poor performance of government schools in Liberia? Another 150 years?

#7)Here's your answer your question about SCHOOL CHOICE on the African Continent: (taken from the "Mevlana International Journal of Education)

School choice in South Africa has accorded the majority of middle class black African parents an exit option away from many historically black African schools. This has been one of education’s major developments in post-Apartheid South Africa. Dissatisfied with under-performing historically black African schools in the townships, these parents choose what they regard to be effective schools, mostly situated outside the townships. The paradox and disadvantage of the flight from the township schools though, is that many of these schools are left with dwindling quality. Yet the majority of black African working class children with few or no choices are still trapped in many under performing township schools......
martin scott at 05:49PM, 2015/12/20.
martin scott
Hey Garsuah Neegee Gborvlehn aka Martin Kollie's press secretary---I'm dying to hear from you: Can you tell me where in the Perspective's interview that proves to YOU that Mr. William Hanson is the same as Jones Nhinson Williams?? Or do you have a cranial rectal inversion (your head up your arse!) problem??
martin scott at 05:58PM, 2015/12/20.
Garsuah Gborvlehn
Martin Scott, the problem IS NOT s 150 year old problem. This problem has been the result of the war and bad governance. Your pretense about Jones Nhonson Williams aka William Hanson IS SIMPLY A DISPLAY OF THE DULLARD YOU ARE. WHAT PROVES THIS IS THE IMPOSSIBILITY TO POINT OUT A SINGLE WARC COUNTRY IN WHICH YOUR STUPIDITY IS FOUND!
Garsuah Gborvlehn at 10:32PM, 2015/12/20.

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