Young Campers Over USAID Supported Camp xSEL Program

Students’ representatives at the camp along with Madam Chelsea Plyler, Project Director of BRIDGE-U: Liberia

The state-run University of Liberia (UL) Camp xSEL (Excellence in Science Education for Liberia) continues to gain great momentum into the second year running with emerging young Liberian “Scientists” expressing excitement over the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-sponsored program.

Camp xSEL is a project under the auspices of USAID Bringing Research to Impact for Development and Global Engagement – Utilization (BRIDGE–U: Liberia). It aims to equip incoming students with the learning tools for their journeys into pre-medical and pre-clinical studies at the UL.

Speaking to reporters during a visit at the camp at the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary (LBTS) in Paynesville, outside Monrovia, the students praised the administration of the UL and its partners for initiating the program, which according to them, will help them to accomplish their dreams in the sciences.

Student Josephine Z. Akoi of the Voinjama Multilateral High School in Lofa County told reporters that the camp has provided knowledge that will make them better citizens for Liberia’s future.

“I am a science student and I want to be a medical doctor and so this camp has given me better understanding of the career that I want to pursue. It gives me the opportunities to fulfill my dream. The teaching is interactive – this has actually been a great knowledge sharing venture. The learning here is participatory.  We are getting the knowledge that will make us better for tomorrow’s future,” Josephine noted.

Like Student Akoi, Olacee M. GLassco of the Gorblee Central High School in Grand Bassa County, believes that the introduction of the program by UL is a great encouragement for high school students who have interest in pursuing their career in the sciences.

“The process has been great; very good for me and my friends who are interested in the areas of science. I want to be become a civil engineer and I am very proud to have been selected to be member of this camp,” Olacee asserted.

Christian J. Lamah of the St. Martin’s High School in Nimba County described the learning process at Camp xSEL as motivational.

“The education here is different; it’s motivational. It brings out our abilities to learn more. The counselors are great and on a daily basis they open our minds on new thing about our ambitions,” he stated.

Ibrahim A. Balde of Monrovia College and Industrial High School in Monrovia indicated that the camp has provided him better knowledge of his dream career – Electrical Engineering.

In remarks, Madam Chelsea Plyler, Project Director of BRIDGE-U: Liberia, disclosed that a total of 100 students were recruited for the second batch from all the 15 counties.

“Last year was the pilot year for this program and so the recruitment was done just within Montserrado County. But this year we went into counties and work with the Ministry of Education through the Districts and Counties’ Education Officers,” noted Madam Plyler.

According to her, since the establishment of the 2022 camp, the students have been having rigorous academic works while having fun at the same time.

“They have had critical thinking lab and many other activities. The overall goal is to bring creativity in the learning process. The program is designed to enable students fulfill their dreams in health sciences. It actually came as a result of the curriculum reform at the UL College of Health Sciences. We thought that this program was in line with the reform and as such, there was a need to reduce the long years of stay (nine years) after graduation from high school to just seven years. We think nine years was unusual to other parts of the world,” she furthered.

“One of the main concerns was to give the children foundation for medical school pathway and so we created this extra curriculum program to prepare them with the hope that there will be ripple effects on the learning process,” the BRIDGE U: Liberia project head explained.

Rev. Dr. Julius S. Nelson, President of the UL, urged students to explore possibilities of becoming better personalities irrespective of their status in society.

“Life is not about where you were born or the family union you were born unto, it’s about how you can explore possibilities for a prosperous future for Liberia. This university; the University of Liberia, which is the microcosm of the larger Liberian society, gives you the best possibilities of a brighter future for Liberia,” Dr. Nelson told the young students amid cheers.

“I hope that this journey will be an opportunity to grow your appetite for the UL. You must help change the story of the UL to be more positive for the rebuilding process of this country,” the UL President added.

Madam Comfort Enders, Senior Deputy Director for Faculty and Students’ Learning at UL, explained that students were recruited from the various counties based on the percentage of high school in each county.

“Because Montserrado County has more schools, there were 16 students selected. The county with the least number of high schools has four students on the camp. There are 100 students from 11th grade and 12th grade. Of this number, there are 51 girls and 49 boys in fulfillment of our gender parity goal,” she among other things told reporters at the LBTS.

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About Joel Cholo Brooks 13528 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, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.
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