The Republic of Liberia is a democracy located on the west African coast. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean along its entire diagonal southwest coastline of 579 kilometers. Liberia borders Sierra Leone to the northwest, Guinea to the north, and Côte d’Ivoire to the east. Liberia measures 111,370 square kilometers in area and is slightly larger than the state of Virginia. Much of Liberia is covered with tropical rainforest, and the country’s terrain ranges from coastal plains to plateaus to low mountains. Liberia’s climate is tropical.
Liberia was founded by freed slaves from the United States of America and the Caribbean in 1822. It became the first independent African nation in 1847. The first president of Liberia was Joseph Jenkins Roberts who was born in Petersburg, Virginia in 1809.
LIBERIA’S EDUCATION AT A GLANCE
The Liberian education system is emerging from a protracted period of civil war and a sporadic period of the Ebola pandemic and the recent Covid 19. The damaging impacts of the civil unrest, compounded by the closure of school in 2015 due to the Ebola outbreak, and the shock of the Covid 19 continue to severely hit the already fragile education system, even years after. Liberia’s education system is significantly struggling behind most other African countries’.
USING COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY TO IMPROVE TEACHING AND LEARNING IN LIBERIAN SCHOOLS
Computer Technology is a global tool for rendering quality education, especially in this digital dispensation. It is deeply impacting many areas of life, undoubtedly, in the area of education to improve the quality of learning as well as teaching. Various resources and technologies have been used to improve the quality of the education system of many countries, even though a good number of other countries, like Liberia, is lacking far behind. Arguably, computers constitute the most important single resource ever to become available to the teachers and students in modern education, bringing about the massive shift from conventional expository teaching to the mediated individualized learning which is interactive, stimulating and rewarding.
Unfortunately, Liberia is still struggling to get fully started with this unavoidable phenomenon. The challenge with computer uses in Liberian schools and with students and administrators is widely visible, and is one of the reasons why the former Liberian President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, termed the Liberian School System as a mess. It is interesting to note that there are many students even at the tertiary/University level in the Liberia school system, least to talk about those at the Elementary, Junior and Senior High levels, are still computer illiterate in this digital dispensation. Most school administrators and staffs are either not also literate or have very little knowledge on computer application/software and as a result of this, they do not fully utilize the great potential that lies in this great human invention (the Computer), which easily process very complex school management system processes to promote accountability and make teaching and learning better. The use of e-learning and e-communication platforms like Moodle, Zoom, etc. are very strange to the average Liberian student. For instance, during the outbreak of the global pandemic, COVID 19, which restricted the movement and closeness of people and students, and in the worst case brought about closure of school, education authorities around the globe decided to utilize various e-learning platforms to continue schooling. This was also done in Liberia, but unarguably with no, or very little success. Many Students and administrators alike either had no clue of how it works, and/or did not have the necessary device/equipment required thereof.
Lack of access to computers, improved facilities, and required human capacity, and the development and management of school management systems remain the major challenges of using computer technology to improve teaching and
The Need for Reform
Liberia’s Education needs to go through a reform process where emphasis is placed on the use of computer technology, especially at the elementary, junior and senior high levels; the competency of classroom teachers and their abilities to use computer technology to enhance teaching and learning, and the ability of school administrators to create and properly manage a school management system where accountability, easy access to academic resources and records by students and parents is a daily reality, etc.
What COKI will do in the reform process
COKI’s vision is to become the premier institution for education reform in Africa. The strategy to achieve this from country to country may differ, due to differences in the education systems and the way teaching and learning is done in schools in the various countries, but the goal remains “REFORM”. In order to achieve the goals of this vision, COKI realizes that strategic partnership with various stakeholders including the donor community, network of volunteers, and schools is very critical. In Liberia, COKI will partner with schools, especially those at the Nursery, Elementary, Junior and Senior high levels, that have relatively convenient physical infrastructure or whose infrastructure can be easily improved, but do not have computers and other teaching and learning resources, lacks computer literate teachers and administrators, and also lacks an online/real-time school management system that ensures transparency, effectiveness, and accountability within the schools system and the management of school resources. COKI will also develop a Competence-Based and Technology-Focused Teaching and Learning Strategies for partnership schools with the aim of 0blending these strategies into the traditional curriculum and adopting it learning in Liberian schools.