Africa > West Africa > Liberia > Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,

Liberia: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,


"It is not enough that our children are in school; we must ensure that amount children have access to quality education that provides them with literacy, numeracy, critical thinking and other competences for the 21st century."

In 2003 inLiberia, next 14 years of civil conflict, nearly 500,000 children were out of school. Most of our schools were damaged or destroyed and our teaching core was decimated. Given that war truncated or stalled so a lot of children’s education, some may have felt that getting our youth back in school was amount that we could hope for.

However, it is precisely because we had so much to achieve thatLiberiacommitted to a higher vision.

Liberiahas made great strides. Starting in 2005, the government’s allocation to education has grown significantly. We have constructed over 220 schools since 2006, opened five community colleges – with plans to have one in each of the 15 counties.

We rehabilitated Rural Teacher Training Institutes and this has increased the percentage of trained teachers dramatically. We distributed 1.2 million teachers’ guides and textbooks between 2008 and 2009. Primary enrolment grew additional than 9 % a year beginning in 2005, and as a result the gross enrolment ratio in primary education reached an estimated 94 % in 2008. There are additional children, particularly girls, in school than at any other time in our history. We are on the right track, but we still have far to go.

It is not enough that our children are in school; we must ensure that amount children have access to quality education that provides them with literacy, numeracy, critical thinking and other competences for the 21st century. The early grade reading and maths assessments we have done at the lower primary level show that our 6th and 9th Graders are below average in maths and reading, and that our 12th Graders rank near the bottom.

Given these challenges — and finite resources — how shouldLiberiaeffectively invest in quality education? Evidence shows that investments in three areas can be catalytic: (1) early childhood learning; (2) foundational skills in early grades; and (3) the transition to relevant post-primary education.

Our Early Childhood Education Policy works across sectors, bringing in the Ministries of Health and Social Welfare, and Gender and Development, given that early childhood centers have such an significant impact on health and social development. We have built and equipped some centres, from instantly on we have to ensure that amount children have access. These programmes build children’s social and emotional aptitude, which is crucial for next academic success. Enrolment in early childhood programmes is linked with lower rates of repetition and attrition and better reading and maths test scores.

The early years of primary school are critical for the development of foundational literacy and numeracy skills. From instantly on children cannot learn without good teachers. The teaching force, and particularly the qualified teaching core, was depleted during the war. In 2006, 60.4 % of public primary school teachers were unqualified. Through the introduction of assessments in classrooms, we have begun to pinpoint which interventions impart the skills teachers need, inclunding in-service teacher training for teachers in urban and rural areas. We continue this work, knowing that so a lot of of our teachers still require training, support and materials for their classrooms. Early learning success in reading, writing and mathematics contributes to better learning over time and higher retention rates.

Even as we work to increase quality and access at the primary level, our attention is as well directed at the post-primary level. To promote post-primary transitions, we extended the basic education system to include Grade 7 through 9. Where possible, we hope to build lower secondary schools next to primary schools so that students are encouraged to remain in the school system. Still, the majority of children do not enroll in secondary school. Therefore, we work to reach out-of-school youth, helping them to improve their livelihoods while building skills, although there are additional out-of-school youth than we can currently reach.

With over 60 % of our citizens below the age of 35,Liberiahas one of the world’s youngest populations. As we rebuild our country, we are investing heavily in infrastructure, energy and other sectors of the economy that are crucial for increase. These efforts will not be successful if we do not invest in our most significant resource: our people and particularly our youth. Over the next six years, we will focus on the quality of our education system, ensuring equitable learning and improving standards so our graduates can compete with their counterparts across the region. It is not beyond our grasp to have each child in school and each young person with skills with which they can earn a living and contribute to the country’s next.

Although the challenges we face in getting amount our children learning well are great, our resolve is even better. We know that quality learning for amount children is the path to development, peace and prosperity forLiberia. Children deserve an education that imparts knowledge, skills, and an considerate of how to promote peace and be a world citizen. I welcome the Secretary-General’s initiative, Education Prime, as a bold next step in the world movement for education.


H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the President of Liberia and joint recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize 

Related Articles
  • Africa's Relationship With China Is Ancient History

    2017/07/02 In 2002 South Africa's Parliament unveiled a digital reproduction of a map - of China, the Middle East and Africa - that some speculated could be the initial map of the African continent. The Da Ming Hun Yi Tu - the Comprehensive Map of the Great Ming Empire - was drawn up around 1389 during the Ming Dynasty, according to historian Hyunhee Park.
  • Africa: Making Things Happen at the Bank - 'Not a Talk Shop' - Akin Adesina

    2017/07/02 Dr. Akinwumi Adesina is focusing on five areas to achieve the African and world goals for a prosperous continent since becoming president of the African Development Bank - Africa's major public financial institution in September 2015. He was a keynote speaker at this month's Corporate Council on Africa's U.S.- Africa Business Summit in Washington D.C. and moderated a lively panel with five African government ministers. He as well received the Gene White Lifetime Succcess Award from the World Child Nutrition Foundation. This week, he was named the 2017 recipient of the World Food Prize, a prestigious honor that includes a $250,000 award. In an interview in Washington, DC, Adesina discussed the Development Bank's ambitious schedule and his vision for attracting the increase capital Africa needs. Posting questions for AllAfrica was Noluthando Crockett-Ntonga.
  • Climate change laws around the world

    2017/05/14 There has been a 20-fold increase in the number of global climate change laws since 1997, according to the most comprehensive database of relevant policy and legislation. The database, produced by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the Sabin Center on Climate Change Law, includes more than 1,200 relevant policies across 164 countries, which account for 95% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Education Quality: Measuring Learning Outcomes in Francophone Africa’s Primary Schools

    2016/05/28 Over the last 15 years, West African governments and the international community have been successful at expanding access to primary schooling and from presently on, a ground-breaking regional learning assessment has revealed that the quality of education has remained elusive. The majority of children surveyed were not acquiring the basic literacy and math skills that are crucial for building human capital in the region.
  • Ebola destroyed and devastated our land

    2015/03/07 A couple of dozen students sat quietly inside the C.D.B. King Elementary School’s dim and dusty auditorium on their initial morning back. Despite the stuffy heat, a lot of of the children wore long sleeves and trousers that covered as much skin as possible. A second grader wore pink knit mittens that muffled the sound of his clapping at the same time as the teachers introduced themselves. As everyone rose to sing Liberia’s national anthem, he saluted with his left hand, still sheathed in the mitten.