Oasis of Knowledge in the inner-city Monrovia

By Meddie Mayanja

October 30th, 2010

I spent the day at the WE-CARE Foundation and met the staff and teacher trainers. WE-CARE's Mike Weah walked me through the history of the foundation, its priorities and linkages across the education sub-sector. From a small community based effort, the foundation has positioned itself as key player in educational instructional reforms in Liberia. With the Liberia Teacher Training Program (LTTP) taking the lead on much of the core teacher training activities albeit with support from USAID, Mike understands that the country is in urgent need of local capacity to innovate and drive educational reforms; strengthen instructional training and support.

Reading Liberia trainers have already delivered a training workshop at the invitation of LTTP. Another similar workshop is scheduled in which ten lead teacher trainers will be involved in two workshops over the next five days. Sixty teachers in all will be trained on how to use new instructional approaches for reading and writing in Liberian classrooms.

At the library, I noticed the majority of users are young people – in high schools or colleges. I sought to know why from a few users. One young man told me the library has the books he needs and the location [on the main street of in-city Monrovia] is convenient. WE-CARE confirms that most schools don’t have a library nor is there a national public library. Although the space is perfect the library doesn’t have near to core stock. That goes to illustrate the scope of the challenge students’ face in Monrovia. The library can do with more – a lot more books on topical issues. I understood that a couple of titles have been donated by visitors. I am next on the roster. It’s a noble cause that requires support.

In the audio visual section, I met with Russell a writer who was using one of the two computers – typing away his manuscript that lay in several pages of a school exercise book. He caught my attention because he sat alone typing one letter at time. I reached out to ask what he was doing. You see, helping Liberian writers to develop quality manuscripts is part of the Reading Liberia project. Mike explained that often time, writers use the good-old pen and paper combination then come to the library to digitize their works. It means the writing process is slow and tedious. When they can find a computer at the library, electricity may be off and if WE-CARE doesn’t switch on the power generator for any reason they won’t work.