Following 14 years of civil war, Liberia’s basic infrastructure was left in shambles. Everything – road systems, public utilities, economic trade, basic education – had to be rebuilt from the ground up. Under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the country has made significant improvements and is on the long road to recovery. However, the devastating effects of war are still impacting daily life in Liberia in many practical ways.
Because children could not attend school during the years of horrible violence, there now exists an entire generation of young people in Liberia who have simply gone with very little or no formal education. The average 20 year old, who would normally be out of school and ready for a life of work and productivity, is actually operating on an elementary level intellect. Not only has a generation of children become young adults without the benefit of education, but the tremendous casualties of war and the displacement of tens of thousands of people have left the country stripped of those individuals who were qualified to do the teaching. So, while peace has been established, the educational system still has not.
Over the past few years, Compassion Corps’ teams have been privileged to come alongside several schools to help with educational projects and teacher training. Liberian teachers are eager to learn specific subject matter as well as classroom management skills and we have been able to offer training for both. Among our team members, we have had many former and current teachers and administrators. During our short term trips in 2011 and 2012, Compassion Corps was able to set up multiple-day teacher training seminars to offer a wide range of classes and helpful training sessions. At the end of the week, participants were awarded completion certificates for their work in the Compassion Corps teacher training program. For many Liberian teachers, this was the first formal training they had received and they accepted their certifications with great pride.
Even country leaders took notice of Compassion Corps’ work with teachers. Liberia’s Department of Education officially expressed interest in partnering with Compassion Corps to put on even more robust and organized training programs that could reach a wider audience of teachers. A memorable invitation from President Ellen Sirleaf had the 2010 team in the President’s office to discuss Compassion Corps’ work and to express her support specifically for the educational work that was being done.
In the summer of 2013, Compassion Corps is going to Liberia with the goal of continuing the teacher training work in a new format. Besides offering some specific classes such as Creative Social Studies’ Methods or the Use of Technology in the Classroom, we will be partnering with teachers through a shadowing program that will allow for real-time classroom training and hands-on experience while kids are still in school. A large number of non-teaching volunteers this year will also afford the team the opportunity to do work projects at many of the schools, such as building chalkboards, bulletin boards, and painting & decorating classrooms.
If you would like to help Compassion Corps with the funds needed for these projects, please make a donation by check, and mail to Compassion Corps, PO Box 103, Chester Heights, PA, 19017 or give online at www.compassion-corps.com. On the donation page, scroll down to Liberia Short Term Team 2013, fill out the information and on the designation pull-down menu, click on Team Projects.