128 students have enrolled in the University of Liberia (UL’s) Early Childhood Pilot Demonstration School on Fendall Campus for this academic year, a remarkable rise in student enrollment there from just seven students when the pilot program started last year.
The Early Childhood Pilot Demonstration School housed in the University’s dormitory on Fendall Campus, is being run under the William V.S. Tubman Teachers College at the University of Liberia.
Prior to the establishment of the demonstration school which resulted from a project undertaken by the Teachers’ College’s senior class of 2017/2018 academic year, the University of Liberia has been struggling over the past years for a place where teachers’ college students could go to practice.
The difficulties of locating a suitable place for students to practice emerged when the Teachers’ College was transferred to Fendall campus from UL’s Capitol Hill campus where students previously had easy access to nearby schools in and around Monrovia.
The challenge faced by teachers’ college students led them to go to schools around town in Fendall and Bensonville to locate a suitable place for their practical, but they did not succeed.
The practical is necessary for teachers’ college students because students in medical school, for instance, go to the teaching hospital to practice, while teacher education students also need a place where they can practice.
In an interview on Friday, September 4, 2019, the Dean of the William V.S. Tubman Teachers College Madam Cecelia Cassell said students went around the community and as far as Bensonville, looking for school to practice, but they just couldn’t find a place that was closer to Fendall campus.
She told the interview at her office on Fendall campus that subsequently one of the dormitories on Fendall campus was found to be useful for the practice.
Based on a request by the Teachers’ College to the University of Liberia Administration, Dean Cassell said the dormitory was approved to be used to start the operation of the University’s Early Childhood Demonstration School.
Upon the approval by the University, Dean Cassell said the Teacher College’s senior class of 2017/2018 second semester decided to undertake a project at the dormitory, bringing in 24 chairs for the beginners from nursery to pre – first.
She disclosed that the senior class brought tables for the students to use, chairs for the teachers and also painted the rooms, paving the way to start the school last academic year with seven students.
“As I said we started with seven students, but the work that we did last year, parents saw the work that we did, we don’t even have space for the students that are coming. As I speak we have 128 students,” Madam Cassell said on Friday.
According to Dean Cassell, the University of Liberia started the early childhood program, affording sophomore students that are doing early childhood course based on the curriculum to start practicing.She said the establishment of the Early Childhood Pilot Demonstration School is a great help, not only for Teachers’ College, but for the Republic of Liberia.
With the enrollment of the 128 students this year, she said the demonstration school does not have space to accommodate additional students. She has appealed for partners’ help in the hope of assisting the University in acquiring a spacious area for the running of the demonstration school.
“This is a school for our students to practice and we can’t overcrowd the classes,” she said
Meanwhile Dean Cassell has made an appeal for textbooks and supplementary books to help the students to develop a culture of reading.
Concerning teachers’ pay at the University’s Early Childhood Pilot Demonstration School, Madam Cassell explained that she does not see a school in Liberia that is paying the salary that the University pays teachers at the demonstration school.“And because they are paying them well, every now and then I’m there to check on them. It’s not something that you come and relax, you know,” Dean Cassell said.
She said teachers employed by the University of Liberia are assigned at the Demonstration School, so the kids get academic preparation like in any other school.Ms. Agnes Sele, one of the teachers at the Early Childhood Pilot Demonstration School said dealing with the kids is no problem for her because she has a passion for the job.
“The children come from different backgrounds with different behaviors, so you will have to cope with their behaviors and bring them up the way the child should be,” she said.
Another instructor Ms. Cecelia K. Kpawor who has been at the demonstration school since last year, said it is very wonderful to be with the kids at the school.
However she said children learn by playing, so materials are needed to motivate the kids in school.Ms. Grace G. Pah, an instructor for K-1 class at the demonstration school said when she sees the kids improving, it brings her joy and it makes her wants to do more.
“Even before I could enter the University of Liberia I was already a teacher because I love children and it’s been my passion,” she said.
According to Grace, working along with children can really make her happy and she wants to continue to be a teacher in the future.However she said there are no toys for the kids to play with, saying toys are needed for the kids to play with during their free time.