"Education as Transformation" in Liberia

Image: A team of students felt pleased to be advocates for the needs of their community.

Education can transform students, teachers, communities and global relationships. Liberia during the mid-2000s offers a shining example. Teachers at 31 schools, first acting as change agents to save lives during the Ebola crisis, inspired great interest among other educators who wanted to share in the transformation process. As a result, Full-Circle Learning Liberia more than doubled the number of participating schools between 2014 and the end of 2015. In recent years, as people had witnessed the changes in the moral convictions as well as the relevant application of skills in service to society, teachers “wanted to jump on board the Full-Circle Learning ship,” according to African Continental Director Davidson Efetobore. Now Full-Circle Learning has taken a strong stand in addressing the issues of post-Ebola Liberia, a country struggling to thaw a frozen economy and to contain the rising cost of commodities after the demise of 40% of the health care force and of the wage earners in many families. So many public health concerns and economic inequities need correcting. Transformation will require selfless leadership and purely motived change agents who apply their skills in service to needs of others throughout their nation. Children in Full-Circle Learning classes came to the forefront of that transformation movement recently when studying the habit of Advocacy. Their work in practicing Steadfastness and Farsightedness during the Ebola outbreak had already prepared them for this next step. Now they would practice street journalism, with multiple purposes in mind: 1) to give a voice to the voiceless; 2) to discern how people are coping with the economic crisis; 3) to tap the ideas of vendors in the marketplace for solutions that may reduce the cost of commodities and restore hope for Liberians; and 4) to provide research that can inform the priorities of their upcoming service projects. (Should they advocate for improved basic living standards, clean water, electricity, food, equal education or other needs revealed by their investigative journalism?) The welcome reception each team of journalists received in the marketplace shows in the fulfillment on their faces. Full-Circle Learning teachers using curricular approaches such as this one are “returning Liberia to its pre-civil war values,” according to members of the Education Ministry. At a gathering of educators in December 2015, the FCL office was encouraged to host an “Education as Transformation” conference in May 2016. The Ministry, multiple non-governmental organizations, and students and teachers will be invited to collaborate on the integrative process of community transformation, with service at its core.

Mrs. Dawosu, a Full-Circle Learning teacher, visited the new Full-Circle Learning headquarters in Monrovia. The Liberian team now includes 500 volunteers who mentor and train new teachers.

Students gathered in teams to research the post-Ebola needs of their community.

A young advocate spoke earnestly to listening ears in the marketplace.