Liberia’s Minister of Education George Werner is calling for the employment of additional 4,000 teachers in public schools across the country. He said about 1.5 million kids are enrolled in schools here, but limited teachers are in the classroom to teach them.
He puts the students-teacher ratio as 60 or 100 to one, disclosing that more girls than boys are enrolled at the primary level, while at both junior and secondary levels, it is the opposite, meaning girls enrolling in primary school don’t go further due to multiple challenges such as early marriage and teenage pregnancy, among others.
Minister Werner made the call at the dedicatory ceremony of three schools and a health center recently in Ganta, Nimba County. The facilities were constructed by Representative Jeremiah Kpan Koung of the county.
At a two-day stakeholder conference in Monrovia in April, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf emphasized that in order to get to a target of 50 students per teacher, government needs to have 23,000 teachers in the next few years, which will see an increase from a current population of 16,000 teachers in public schools.
She stressed that the highest impact intervention through the education system is to improve the quality of teaching. The Education boss noted that there are gaps in the educational system, stressing the need for more young people to go to school and become trained teachers to help their little brothers and sisters.
He said the government, thru the Ministry of Education has brought into the country sufficient textbooks, but teachers are needed to teach the pupils. The educational system here is engulfed by serious problems ranging from lack of trained teachers, infrastructure and bribery, among others.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been the first person to acknowledge there are problems in the system and described the country’s education as a mess. The government is opting to outsource primary education under a public-private partnership with Bridge International Academies, a Kenya-based company, beginning with a pilot project in September that will see at least 50 of the country’s 5,000 primary schools run by the company.
The country’s 1.5 million student’s enrolment includes 800,000 boys and 725,000 girls. On the other hand, the number of schools has increased from 4,500 to about 5,000 schools, 500 of them run by the state.
By Franklin Doloquee, Nimba-Editing by Jonathan Browne