Liberians home and abroad are now becoming to realize that it is indeed important to holistically contribute their quota to the growth and development of their country’s future leaders, the youths, in providing those services that will enhance their future, and bring dignity to their mother’s land, Liberia.
The African Dream Academy Foundation (ADAF) which was established eight years ago, in 2011, in Liberia is one of those institutions that is indeed making the difference in the Liberian educational sector despite the prevailing situation in that West African nation; its quest to molding the minds of the country’s youthful population seems welcomed to many Liberians.
African Dream Academy currently educates children from age three in the Nursery Class through Tenth Grade and plans to add Eleventh Grade in 2019 and Twelfth Grade in 2020.
The Early Childhood School begins with three year olds, as recent studies have shown that a fine education in the early childhood years has the greatest impact, as this is the stage when the brain is developing most rapidly, creating periodic “blooms” of synapses (connections among neurons) that present “windows of opportunity” for brain development; by age six, the brain is about 95% of the size of an adult brain. (Hawley,T. “Starting Smart: How Early Experiences Affect Brain Development” 2nd Edition, 2000)
James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist, has shown that investing in early-childhood education can lead to significant economic gains for society – an average of 10 percent per year through increased personal achievement and social productivity (Heckman and Masterov, The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children, October 2004).
The Early Childhood Division, located in a separate Early Childhood Center on the ADA campus, consists of Nursery classes of three-year-olds, Pre-Kindergarten classes of four-year-olds called K-1, and Kindergarten classes of five-year-olds called K-2. Each class has no more than 30 children with a Head teacher and an Assistant teacher.
The early childhood program aims to facilitate cognitive, social, emotional and physical development through a wide variety of learning experiences. Class time is balanced to include teacher-initiated activities designed to assist with specific skill development and child-initiated exploration of materials and centers designed to stimulate, engage, and foster excitement and enthusiasm for learning. Children have both whole group and small group experiences with an emphasis on successful participation as a classroom community member. A wide variety of construction materials, puzzles, learning materials and books have been sent from the United States. The Zoo-phonics Multi-sensory Language Arts Program is used to develop literacy. It is a kinesthetic, multi-modal approach to learning all aspects of language arts, including vocabulary development and articulation, based on phonics and phonemic awareness.
The principle of Zoo-phonics maximizes understanding, memory, utilization and transference to all areas of the reading, spelling and writing process in a playful and concrete manner.
ADA follows the national curriculum prescribed by the Liberian Ministry of Education. Materials and textbooks are selected from a wide range of nationally and internationally recognized companies and programs such as Harcourt, Pearson and Scholastic to help the students develop their fullest potential in preparation for meeting all the challenges of the elementary school. This combined curriculum teaches skills that apply to real-world settings employing the collective wisdom of our cultures and upholding the values of disciplinary learning. It also develops our students’ ability to reason, be creative and use critical thinking skills and collaborative learning.
Classes are divided into sections to keep class size under 30 children. These grades begin daily activities with a morning assembly focusing on character education. The day proceeds with instruction in the core subjects: language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, and students participate in additional special classes, such as computer, French, music, library, physical education, cultural dance, and art. Saturday classes are also held for Sixth Grade students to prepare them for the West African Council Exam.
In 1st and 2nd Grades, students are taught core subjects in self-contained classes by a teacher and assistant teacher who work as a team. In 3rd Grade two teachers rotate between classes teaching students core subjects preparing them for middle grade instruction.
The upper elementary division consists of rotational classes in core subjects for 4th through 6th Grades and in special classes mentioned above.
Junior High students are taught in rotational classes by over 15 specialized teachers in the following core subjects: English, literature, vocabulary, civics, geography, history, science, and math. Students also participate in the special classes listed under the Elementary Division, but at an advanced level, and Saturday classes are held to prepare them for the West African Council Exam.
The High School Division consists of rotational classes for 10th Grade students; and by September 2019, will include classes for 11th Grade students and in the fall of 2020, 12th grade will be added. Core subjects become more rigorous as students now study: English, literature, vocabulary, civics, geography, history, biology, chemistry, physics, and math; and in addition to advanced-level classes in the special subjects, high school students are offered classes in counseling and labs.
As we educate future leaders of Liberia, the faculty is mindful of providing opportunities for students to celebrate growth in independence as they move from skill acquisition to application of everything they have learned.
Established by Rev. Samuel Enders, the African Dream Academy, a tuition free academy institution has greatly impacted the lives of many Liberians, many of whom who are cashless to send their children to school are now proud to be a direct beneficiaries of Rev. Enders’ educational bonanza whose primary object to see Liberia’s youthful generation ascending to higher height in pursuit to advanced education.
Rev. Enders who is also a Liberian lawmaker, representing the people of District # 6, Montserrado County has over the years made his mark not only in the educational sector, but has also built a reputation that will forever be remembered by his kinsmen notably his concern to seeking the wellbeing of his people be it education or health.
His healthcare center which is approximately ten minutes away from the African Dream Academy (ADA) gives opportunity to all students including others to have access to free health care; a vocational school has also been established giving mothers of ADA students to learn professional skills while their kids at in school so that they can better improve and lives and support their families.
While at the ADA vocational institution, these women will also be opportune to learn computer skills, tailoring, catering, beauty care, soap-making, hair braiding, and interior design, currently according to report, over 1500 women have been enrolled.
Currently, the ADA Board of Directors are working closely with another Liberian US based NGO, the I-Help Liberia Project which has over the years providing STEM education to Liberian teachers mainly in Montserrado, Nimba and Margibi counties through the arrival in Liberia of scholars and professors from the United States leading universities and colleges with the sole purpose of helping to empower these Liberian teachers and students.
Both Rev. Enders who is the founder of ADA and Mr. Asumana Jabateh founder of I-Help Liberia Project shared similar dreams to improving the educational system of Liberia which was in yesteryears described by many as a Chaotic One’.
Joel Cholo Brooks writes in New York