Liberia bet big on charter schools. One year in, what’s it learning?

Ryan Lenora Brown| Staff writer|@ryanlenorabrown|

Few educator experts disagree that the West African country’s education system needs an overhaul. But many are skeptical about the pilot program, which brings debates about private-public partnerships to a new corner of the globe.

November 13, 2017 Freeman Reserve, Liberia—At first glance, Cecelia Dunbar Elementary School hardly looks like the site of a radical educational experiment.

Set in a cacophonously green village surrounded by lanky rubber trees about an hour from Liberia’s capital, its low-slung classrooms are unlit and streaked with dirt. Children – as many as 50 to a class – squeeze into a number of desks that is never quite enough, like an endless game of musical chairs. On a recent morning in the 4th grade classroom, two students – one who looked about 9, the other perhaps 15 – share a bench with no legs, propped up by large rocks, with tattered workbooks balanced carefully on their knees.

“Chairs are one of our biggest challenges,” admits principal Jacob Haiwulu. “And lunch,” he adds – as in, the school can’t afford to provide it, and most students don’t have the money to bring or buy it either.

In many ways, however, these challenges are small in the face of what ails Liberia’s public school system more generally. This corner of West Africa is, undeniably, one of the worst places in the world to get an education. Nearly two-thirds of children never go to school at all, and even for those who make it to the end of high school, half fail the West African graduation exam.

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Source: The Christian Science Monitor

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About Cholo Brooks 5280 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists.