The Ministry of Education is retraining at least one thousand government teachers with their partner Bridge Liberia, ahead of the opening of schools for the 2020/2021 academic year.
Teachers are gathering in Ganta from across the country for a two week training session designed to improve teaching and learning outcomes for students. The approach has been in use in Liberia’s public schools for 5 years already and has been evidenced as having a positive effect in classrooms.
The teacher training focuses on specific teaching principles, techniques, and technological skills that a contemporary teacher needs for the effective delivery of learning materials in the classroom.
This year, the teacher training which is done at least annually, is even bigger than usual as the Ministry of Education is expected to significantly grow the national Liberian Education Advancement Program (LEAP) – where Bridge Liberia is the main partner – when schools reopen for a new academic year after the pandemic. A growth of the programme will be a sure signal of the government’s confidence in the initiative’s results and will mean that hundreds of new teachers are required to be supported and re-trained as part of the Bridge Liberia ecosystem.
Government teachers in the Bridge Liberia schools are unequivocally different from other public school teachers in the country in a number of ways. They are expected to teach using techniques and technology that has been carefully designed to improve learning for students. To be proficient in this approach and to have the proper skills requires training.
One specific skill is the use of technology. All teachers in the Bridge Liberia program use technology as a teaching tool which is used for lesson planning, tracking of attendance, following performance to assess data of classroom activity. It makes classrooms transparent and in all the nooks and corners of the country, it can be seen what activity is taking place. Many teachers are unused to using the technology or being supported with lesson materials in the way that the technology allows and the training is an important part of public schools joining the program.
Speaking at the teacher training opening ceremony, Education Minister Prof. D Ansu Sonii commendended Bridge Liberia for the support they are giving the education sector in transforming the lives of young Liberians by improving learning gains across Bridge Liberia supported schools. He encouraged teachers present saying that “We are proud that you are here to gain knowledge that will make an impact on the future generation of this country. Make use of the skills you will get from here for the betterment of our country.”
As a former teacher himself, Prof. Sonii took the opportunity to remind the teachers at the training about their role in shaping the minds of future generations.
“Teachers are stepping stones and ladders for students, and ultimately our country,to rise.”
He further encouraged the community,district and county education officers to take charge and play a leadership role in the programs and partnerships the government has arranged to improve learning for students such as the Bridge Liberia partnership.
The Education Minister’s call extended to parents to “take advantage of the government reform that is ongoing in the education sector and ensure their children go to school and stay in school”. Part of the supporting teachers is being an engaged parent group; it’s a community effort.
At the end of the teacher training efforts in Ganta, all teachers will be equipped with new techniques that focus on helping students perform well, such as ‘narrating the positive’, ‘cheers’ and 1:1 feedback for students. Teachers will also be proficient in the use of the technology – teaching tablets – that they will need to use daily at their respective schools.
Teachers are excited to participate in these training sessions, considering the new approaches they learn. Many at the training say that they are excited about the training and proud that the Minister is so committed and focussed on helping them in their profession. .
Victoria Bargblor, a teacher at Gborbho Central High school in Grand Gedeh who is newly joining a Bridge Liberia supported school and attending the training for the first time says she has so many high expectations, and is excited to learn new skills to prepare her for the new academic year.
“I am happy to be here and I know my coming to this training will change the way I present lessons to my students moving forward. Maybe i will be able to change the future of my community if the students do well”
Teachers, principals, district and county education officers are all in Ganta for the training to support the Ministry of Education and Bridge Liberia as the organization prepares teachers and school administrators for the upcoming academic year.