Bridge Liberia Media Mentions

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Recognition of LEAP and Bridge Liberia's support, 2018 - 2022


2022


Bridge Liberia Donates Books to We Care Library to Mark World Book Day

25th April 2022 MONROVIA – Every year, on April 23 the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and education partners celebrate World Book and Copyrights Day, an event that promotes reading and celebrates great writers like William Shakespeare, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, a great Spanish writer, among others. Reading, which is bedrock to education as well as a fundamental skill for education, is lacking in students mostly in poor countries, a challenge that education partners like Bridge Liberia is working to mitigate. A 2017 Study conducted by UNESCO informed that most children are not able to read well, due to several factors including the availability of books. Education partners like Bridge Liberia view such studies as an opportunity to turn things around, especially for students they support. Bridge Liberia, which supports 350 public primary schools across the country provides learning materials including textbooks to support teachers and students.

This kind of support eliminates the two major drivers holding education back: a lack of access to learning and a lack of quality teaching, which significantly impacts learning. The textbooks provided by Bridge Liberia to its supported schools have contributed to significant improvement in reading among its students with data available to prove it. In Bridge Liberia’s first year of operation, a Learning in Liberia Report showed that students at Bridge Liberia supported schools could read 7 more words per minute and answer 6% more questions correctly about the story they just read. Further, 17% of Bridge-supported public schools’ second graders met reading fluency benchmarks for the first time, compared to only 4% of second graders at traditional public schools. At the end of the first year, a randomized control trial by the Center for Global Development found Bridgesupported students had reading gains equivalent to a whole additional year of schooling when compared to other government schools.

As Bridge Liberia joins the world to celebrate World Book Day, the social enterprise has donated over 1,500 textbooks to the WE CARE LIBRARY, a public library operating in central Monrovia since 1995, where students go to do research and read on a daily basis. The Executive Director of the Library P. Michael Weah, commended the social enterprise for choosing to celebrate World Book Day 2022 in such a unique way, by providing learning materials for students and the general public in central Monrovia. The donation of these books will give hundreds of students in central Monrovia access to academic books they can use for various educational purposes including reading, to help them get on a learning path with other students around the world. The journey of books may begin with the writer, but there is indeed a reader that is waiting for such scholastic to complete a portion of their lives, as we believe that reading should be a part of people’s lives, least to mention students.


Liberia: The Journey of a book 21st April 2022 Reading transforms lives. It opens the door to the entire world of learning. No child will understand a math question unless they can read it. Reading improves language and is fundamental to a child’s entire future academic achievement. But globally, reading is in crisis. According to World Bank Education, half of all children in low and middle income countries are in “Learning Poverty” – defined as a child not being able to read or understand a simple text by age 10. In sub-Saharan Africa, it is far worse – a catastrophic 90% of 10-year-olds cannot read at this basic level. And the impact of the covid pandemic is expected to push another 72 million children globally into Learning Poverty. UN World Book and Copyright Day falls every year on April 23rd. It aims to foster and encourage a love of reading, through a love of books. At Bridge Liberia, we know that no child can love reading if they don’t know how to read. And we also know that reading begins with a book. That is why every book we help put into the hands of a child must be as good as it can possibly be. And that is why the journey of a book is so important. Local Ownership The journey of every book for NewGlobe is a shared one, a partnership. In Liberia, where Bridge Liberia, is the largest partner in the LEAP program of public school improvement, that means working closely with the national Ministry of Education. In Nigeria, where NewGlobe is the technical supporter for state education transformation programs, that means designing in step with State Universal Basic Education Boards (SUBEBs) such as in Lagos State, where we support the EKOEXCEL program.

Everywhere we support schools, we ensure all books are in line with the curriculum. In Kenya, the Government partnered with Bridge Kenya to roll out the new competency-based curriculum and every book used in a Bridge Kenya school is precisely aligned to support it. This fit is vital to ensure that what children learn from a book is what they are required to know and may be tested on in life-changing exams.

For a child to engage meaningfully with a textbook, they must see themselves and their culture represented in it. This could be a simple thing like counting ‘cookies’ versus counting ‘biscuits’ depending on which word they might hear used in everyday life. But it could also be something much more profound – the effect of seeing a young woman doing a science experiment in an illustration, or a group of friends from different backgrounds and religions.

Feedback from local teachers is essential, to gauge how current textbooks support classroom learning and to ensure that all new books handed to students align with the core competencies outlined in the curriculum.

Such images are powerful. They affect not only the learning process, but also the way in which learners experience the world around them. It’s why all images are selected carefully, to make sure books containing pictures feature both girls and boys, that they are of the right age for class expected to use the book and that their dress is appropriate to the country or region.

Creating learning material of the highest quality possible is a time and labor-intensive process; meticulous attention to detail is required, to ensure that textbooks are locally owned, and that all content including images and language is inclusive and region specific..

NewGlobe expertise As well as ensuring the journey of a book is always a local one, we also make sure that we add the benefit of 15 years’ of experience and expertise, as leaders in learning.


We know at NewGlobe that every book must be based on an absolutely accurate assessment of the learning levels of the children who will be using it. That’s why for every program we support, we randomly select representative schools and then run numeracy and literacy tests. That way we can be sure that the decisions made about what language is used to introduce concepts or ideas is tailored to the needs and understanding of the children who will be using the book. For instance, it’s possible to describe the idea of “friction” simply or at a very high level. Testing helps ensure we pitch it just right. NewGlobe also ensures that no book is created alone. Books which do not align with the entire teaching and learning experience may be of little use. So a crucial part of the journey for every book is its fit with every aspect – teacher training, classroom techniques, the whole system. It is a holistic approach which makes every book as useful as it can possibly be in supporting the learning of children.

The making of a book

How to tell a book is good

After so much work, there is still no physical book. Only after the crucial steps of local ownership and educational expertise have been followed is a book ready to be produced.

Finally, a book has arrived in the most important hands of all; the hands of a child. One final step remains – to be sure that child is learning as well as possible, with the help of that book.

Once a book is approved, it moves onto the manufacturing stage of the process. A manufacturing team takes the specifications of the book to printers. Examples of the specifications required are the number of pages, or page count, ink color and the type of binding needed. The printer awarded the book then receives the approved files, and the book is ready to be born. Once the book is printed, local operations teams take-on two more processes, kitting and distribution. Kitting is the job of organizing books by school. Distribution is the delivery of those batches of books to the right schools. Finally, a book arrives at school. But its journey is not quite over. The final stage of a book’s journey is to facilitate learning. Textbooks arrive in classrooms where they are used to teach or reinforce important curriculum concepts. Here they become an invaluable resource to improve learning outcomes for children.

Every program and community NewGlobe supports uses real-time data gathering, in order to measure how well pupils are improving. One example is the Bridge Liberia partnership program which is transforming learning outcomes for children in 350 primary schools. Education Minister Prof. D. Ansu Sonni who is a veteran educator and a strong advocate for education commended the partnership with Bridge Liberia when he spoke recently about how partnerships in education is supporting learning gains. “From the time I have been onboard, no other organization has brought the kind of satisfaction in the performance of complementary education services that helped us in the whole sector.” At Bridge Liberia, we work every day to make sure that the journey of each book is as good as it can possibly be. We harness the power of a book every day. But on UN World Book and Copyright Day we celebrate that journey even more. The journey of a book.


LIBERIA: Nimba County Education Officer Extols Bridge Liberia

28th March 2022 Bridge Liberia, one of the Government of Liberia’s partners in the education sector supporting public schools to improve learning and teaching, has been commended by the County Education Officer of Nimba, Moses Dologbay, for its model of monitoring and supervision at its supported schools in Nimba County. According to Mr. Dologbay, the Bridge Liberia approach of monitoring schools has ensured teachers, students and school administrators at supported schools attend classes every school day, as well as teachers deliver learning materials as required. In addition to providing a teaching tablet to all teachers and school administrators, which serves as a monitoring device for attendance and lesson delivery, Bridge Liberia schools supervisors also visit supported schools daily, to ensure compliance and mitigate whatever situation that may arise at the various schools.

With thirteen educational districts, Nimba County hosts over one hundred of the three hundred and fifty schools allotted to Bridge Liberia by the Ministry of Education for support, thus prompting the need for such rigorous monitoring. Mr. Dologbay, who monitors and supervises all education activities as the County Education Officer, has been keen on ensuring partners to the Ministry of Education in the county work with schools and district education officers to monitor and supervise various schools, something he is commending Bridge Liberia for. The social enterprise is keen on significantly improving learning for students in public schools, thereby helping to give them a better future.

Education Minister Prof. D. Ansu Sonii is currently travelling across the country inspecting schools, as part of the plans to properly monitor schools and make improvements in the education system. Monitoring and supervision is one of the challenges the Ministry of Education is tackling as a way to improve the quality of education at public schools in the country. Such physical and technological monitoring has been part of Bridge Liberia model of learning since 2016, when the social enterprise signed the partnership with the Liberian Government.


Celebrating the women behind Bridge Liberia

9th March 2022 March 8, is celebrated throughout the world as International Women’s Day. Recognized by the United Nations to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, the day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. Under the global theme “Break the Barriers, Set the Stage for Gender Equality”, the Liberian Government has coined the local theme “ Liberian women in history: breaking the barriers and setting the stage for gender equality.” This theme coincides with the marking of Liberia’s bi-centennial, celebrating the return of free black slaves who moved back to Liberia 200 years ago. In Liberia, there is a national celebration each year, highlighting the Liberian women’s journey in the struggle for women’s rights and women’s empowerment. Women from different professional backgrounds meet at the national event where dignitaries and politicians are all present for the celebration.

This year, for the first time Bridge Liberia women teachers and staff are participating in the national celebration. Teaching, which is considered one of the most important professions in the world, comes with so many challenges especially in a third world country like Liberia. With all the many challenges, teachers are expected to improve learning outcomes and lay the foundation for the prosperity of both their communities and countries. At Bridge Liberia supported schools, women are part of the equation that is empowering a new generation of confident and successful girls. For instance, according to a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) 5th grade girls’ average performance on reading fluency increased by over 27 words per minute. Once lagging by 10 words per minute, girls now outperform boys.

This statistic, we believe won’t be possible without the women teachers who come to class with passion to deliver world class lessons to students each day. According to a Study, there is a direct correlation between the number of women teachers and girls’ enrollment, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Such studies suggest that women teachers do not only play a significant role in mentoring female students, but female students feel more comfortable when they have a female teacher to look up to for guidance. Bridge Liberia strategy is to ensure the number of qualified female teachers increases to make the desired impact in Liberia’s education sector. While this process is on, we are wishing the over 600 female teachers at Bridge Liberia supported schools, Happy International Women’s Day.


Liberia leads the way in fighting pandemic learning loss 28th February 2022 The scale of learning loss caused by the Covid pandemic is staggering. The World Bank estimates that the impact of school closures has increased the proportion of 10-year-olds unable to read or understand a simple text – so-called “learning poverty” – to 70% in low and middle-income countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, where the figure stood at 90% even before the impact of Covid, the situation is even worse. One academic study suggests learning loss of between six months and one year of schooling, multiplying if not addressed to lost learning of 2.8 years for a child in Grade Three by the time they reach Grade 10. In December the Ministry of Education announced the expansion of the Liberia Education Advancement Program (LEAP), specifically as a key measure in tackling Covid-related learning loss. Launched in 2016 by the Government of Liberia as the Partnership Schools for Liberia, LEAP started as a three-year pilot scheme to test if a PPP model could accelerate improvements in the country’s primary public education system after it had been decimated by 14 years of civil war and the Ebola health pandemic. Bridge Liberia, a NewGlobe program, has been a major partner in LEAP from the beginning. And from the beginning, LEAP has focussed on results. Its goals include the need to: Establish evidencebased interventions to increase optimal student learning outcomes. Improvements have been clear. In Bridge Liberia-supported schools, 81 percent of students who joined in the first grade and have now spent 2½ years in a Bridge Liberia-supported classroom are proficient or basic readers, compared to only 33% of students in traditional public schools.

So it made perfect sense for the Liberian Government to take a program that was already a success and expand it further to combat the impact of covid. The expanded LEAP now covers 525 public primary schools in all of Liberia’s 15 counties, giving an additional 60,000 students – 130,000 in all – access to quality education and the opportunity to build a better future. Some 70% of LEAP schools are now supported by Bridge Liberia. Minister of Education, Professor D. Ansu Sonii, said:

“We are proud of the decision we have made to expand our public education partnership program across the country. Liberia has many challenges and we believe that it is only with an educated population now, not in generations to come, that we will overcome them and build a safer and more prosperous future for our people.” The Education Ministry has now gone further. In February it launched an Education Sector Analysis, which will lead on to an Education Sector Plan, due in August. That Plan will govern and manage Liberian education for the next 5 years. LEAP is among the key programs forming part of the sector review and plan development process. Strikingly, the drive by Liberia’s Government to use an expanded LEAP in tackling learning loss fits perfectly with the priority solutions promoted by the World Bank, UNESCO, and UNICEF report. It starts by highlighting the need for accurate data. Such datagathering and analysis has been at the center of LEAP and the work of Bridge Liberia from the beginning.

All teachers and school leaders are equipped with a specially-designed tablet which provides LEAP leaders with an enormous amount of real-time data, from attendance to lesson completion and students’ exam results. Progress is monitored and recorded. Other “proven techniques” for promoting foundational learning which governments are urged to adopt include extending instructional time, making learning more efficient through targeted instruction and the use of structured pedagogy. All are features of LEAP. LEAP schools were the first in Liberia to teach a full school day and LEAP students spend nearly an hour a day longer on academic learning than their peers in other schools. Ahead of the expansion of LEAP, Bridge Liberia worked with the Education Ministry to retrain nearly 1,500 government teachers to use modern child-centered pedagogy and technology. The retraining priorities the need for teachers to check on every child’s learning, helping those who are struggling through one-to-one guidance and responding with feedback which accelerates learning. Liberia’s Government has responded to the challenge of covid-related learning loss by focusing on solutions already proven to work, driven by data and with a focus on student outcomes, all supported by scientifically-developed pedagogy and thorough teacher training. It is a blueprint not just for recovering learning loss, but for the transformation of schools and of educational outcomes for Liberian children.


LEAP Forms Part of Government’s Education Sector Analysis

13th February 2022 The Ministry of Education, the regulator of all school activities in the country, invited various education stakeholders to review activities in the education sector which will inform a strategic plan that will govern and manage the sector for the next 5 years. The Joint Sector Education Plan (JSER) is closely watched by foreign multilateral and donors who use it to determine the government’s priorities in the year ahead; and allocate funding accordingly. The Education Sector Analysis which is done every five years is intended to review challenges and progress in the sector while informing authorities and stakeholders about where the gaps are, strengthening partnerships and identifying new opportunities. After a presentation of findings were given by UNESCO and IIEP, the Ministry of Education immediately launched the Education Sector Plan (ESP) and asked various sector specialists to support in the development of this essential document. The ESP is expected to be completed in August 2022. Government education partners like those in the Liberia Education Advancement Program (LEAP), which is now in its sixth year, is amongst the key programs forming part of the sector review and plan development process. The LEAP Program is a public-private partnership that delivers 100 percent tuition-free primary education across all

15 counties in Liberia from early childhood education through grade six. The LEAP Program was designed to improve school management and accountability, enhance teachers and school administrators ability to deliver quality learning outcomes and optimize delivery models that the Ministry of Education can apply throughout all of Liberia’s public schools.

In his SONA, the President spoke about the role of teachers in developing the country’s prospects. “For Liberia to develop, we must develop the minds of our youths. We must train our teachers so that they themselves will be able to train the minds of our youths. curriculum training was provided to 1,250 teachers and caregivers who have since returned to their places of assignment in Sinoe, Maryland, Grand Kru, Rivercess, River Gee & Bomi. LEAP is one of the Government’s core programs to support and train teachers. Government teachers in the Bridge Liberia supported schools are highly trained and well resourced when compared to their counterparts from other government schools. They are expected to teach using techniques and technology that has been carefully designed to improve learning for students.

One specific skill is the use of technology. All teachers in the Bridge Liberia program use technology as a teaching tool which is used for lesson planning, tracking of attendance, following performance to assess data of Recently, H.E. President George Weah classroom activity. It makes classrooms reported in his 2022 fifth State of the transparent and in all the nooks and Nation Address (SONA) reaffirming his corners of the country, it can be seen commitment to education and what activity is taking place. highlighting that: “Under the 2022 National Budget, we intend to increase These continuous efforts toward spending in education so that all the enhancing the education system of interventions we are making can lead Liberia supports the president’s vision of to us transforming the sector from providing quality education to the mess to best.” country’s youthful population. The Education Sector Review follows the Government’s expansion of the LEAP program at the end of 2021; which allotted additional 179 schools to Bridge Liberia. This coincided with a large-scale teacher training initiative by Bridge Liberia supported by the Ministry of Education and the Chairs of the House and Senate committees. The social enterprise collaborated with the Ministry of Education to train teachers with special focus on teaching principles, techniques, and technological skills that a contemporary teacher needs for the effective delivery of learning materials in the classroom.

As the President further stated in his SONA: “Providing quality education to our future leaders has remained a paramount priority of my Administration. I am pleased to report that we have made great strides in improving literacy and other learning outcomes in the educational sector, with milestone achievements in the areas of Access, Quality and System Transformation”. Currently there are four partners in the LEAP with Bridge Liberia the largest partner, supporting over 70% of schools.


Bridge Liberia Replaces Black Boards at all Supported Schools

7th February 2022 Monrovia — Bridge Liberia has embarked on a massive renovation and replacement of blackboards across all its supported schools in the country. The renovation exercise, according to Bridge Liberia, is to ensure that all government schools supported by the social enterprise are attractive, and conducive for effective teaching and learning. The black boards replacement project which began in January 2022, is expected to be completed by the end of February. The renovation and replacement of blackboards at Bridge Liberia supported schools comes after the expansion of the Liberia Education Advancement Program (LEAP) of which Bridge Liberia is the largest partner.

In December of 2021, the Ministry of Education expanded the LEAP and allotted additional 179 schools to Bridge Liberia, bringing the organization’s supported schools to 350, now covering Liberia’s 15 counties. As a partner to the Liberian Government, Bridge Liberia supports the Ministry of Education to improve learning and teaching within public schools; providing a better future for Liberia’s youth. The revamping of these public schools in the country guarantees the Liberian Government a decent learning environment for all students in schools supported by the social enterprise.

About Bridge Liberia In 2016, Liberia’s President and its Ministry of Education announced Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL), an innovative public-private partnership designed to transform the primary public education system. Eight education providers – with proven track records in delivering high-quality education – were paired with public primary schools across Liberia; while teachers remained on the Government payroll. After a change of national Government, PSL became the Liberian Education Advancement Program(LEAP). LEAP is now in its six years, with four remaining providers. Bridge Liberia is the largest provider with the greatest number of schools allotted and is delivering statistically significant learning gains. Bridge Liberia is currently supporting government schools in all of Liberia’s 15 counties especially in some of the most remote and hard to reach areas.


A global education crisis : How can governments overcome learning losses in 2022? 24th January 2022 For two whole years, the Covid-19 health crisis has disrupted education systems worldwide and forced school closures which have impacted hundreds of millions of children. All of them have suffered learning loss. Some, though, have suffered more than others. In developed countries, access at home to computers and cheap and reliable broadband allowed students to make the transition to online learning. School closures were painful, but technology mitigated the impact. In some cases, African leaders were also able to go a long way towards replicating classroom teaching. But for many African children, access to technology is limited. Many also found their schools closed for the longest periods. Schools in Uganda only reopened at the start of 2022 even though schools in Liberia took a shorter break for lock downs. Recent evidence suggests that learning losses as a result of the pandemic have been even worse than previously estimated. According to World Bank Education, “Learning Poverty” – defined as a child not being able to read or understand a simple text by age 10 – is expected to increase by 70% in the Global South as a result. Such learning loss would be a disaster anywhere. But on a continent where so many children were already being failed – with up to 90 percent of 10-year-olds in sub-Saharan Africa in Learning Poverty even before the pandemic – it is potentially catastrophic. Today’s United Nations International Day of Education is taking place under the theme “Changing Course, Transforming Education” – a recognition that the impact of the covid pandemic requires a radical reset of education. “In these exceptional times, business as usual is no longer an option. If we are to transform the future, if we are to change course, we must rethink education” explains Audrey Azoulay,

Director General of UNESCO. Together with UNESCO and UNICEF, the UN’s children’s agency, The World Bank has mapped out a route to building back education in 2022, in a landmark report addressing the status of education on a global scale. “The State of the Global Education Crisis: A Path to Recovery” makes clear what must be done. It starts by pointing to the lack of data about education. “To tackle the learning crisis, countries must first address the learning data crisis” it says. According to the Global Partnership for Education, just 20 out of 61 GPE partner countries — lower income countries it supports in order to improve learning outcomes — report at least 10 of 12 key education-related outcomes. Without such data, it is simply impossible to know how well children are learning. At Bridge Liberia, we know that learning is a science. The government school program we support is rooted in gathering and analysis of data. In Liberia, schools supported by Bridge Liberia are monitored in real-time by a digital and data-driven electronic dashboard that displays the data of all 350 primary schools under the program. The World Bank report also calls for a prioritization of “evidence-based strategies, proven techniques for promoting foundational learning”. This is precisely the approach being taken by the Liberian Government, which has announced a more than doubling of its LEAP education advancement program, which will now cover 130,000 students in more than 500 primary schools – precisely because in the six years it has been running it has been proven to work. Children under LEAP have gained at

least an additional year of learning. In schools supported by Bridge Liberia, the largest partner with 350 schools and part of NewGlobe, the learning gains are equivalent to 2.5 years. The same report also calls for a range of other urgent improvements in education systems to clawback covid learning losses. It points to the need for extended lesson time for children, for instruction to be targeted, so learning is appropriate to each child, and for more use of structured pedagogy – in essence, a more scientific approach to teaching. These approaches are at the core of the learning program at Bridge Liberia supported schools – precisely because they have been shown time and again to improve learning outcomes. Our structured pedagogical approach is based on decades of research and application. The results speak for themselves. But the World Bank report does not just talk about data and systems. It also focuses on the single most important aspect of learning – teachers – calling on governments to “ensure teachers are well-supported.” At NewGlobe, we believe that improving teachers’ well-being and professional development is essential to education recovery. Our data-driven approach provides teachers, schools leaders and staff with tools to learn and develop their skills. Every teacher receives bespoke training. Prior to the opening of schools for the academic year 2021/2022 Bridge Liberia collaborated with the Ministry of Education and trained over 1,500 government school teachers. Such training is followed by a program of continuous personal development. Learning and development coaches conduct live lesson observations and use them to provide teachers with practical insights on how to make their lessons even more impactful. It is a never-ending cycle of learning about learning.


2021


Liberia: Government Paves the Way for LEAPs inclusion in New Education Sector Plan

15th December 2021

Following the recent training of close to 1,500 government teachers by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with Bridge Liberia, The Ministry of Education (MoE) has announced the expansion of the Liberian Education Advancement Program (LEAP) into every county in Liberia. The growth of LEAP is one of the key measures that the Government is taking to tackle the learning loss that is anticipated to affect schools and communities across the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Education is more than doubling the size of the LEAP program ensuring that more students will benefit from the Government’s intervention. The program is one of the most innovative public private partnerships on the African continent; making Liberia a globally admired model of public education improvement as it enters its sixth year. LEAP has enabled the government to close the gap in its basic education sector through effective teacher training; pedagogically appropriate lesson materials and ongoing coaching, training and capacity building. The expansion marks the government’s intent to make the Liberian Education Advancement Program a cornerstone in its forthcoming Education Sector Plan (ESP). At the start of the 2021/2022 academic year, LEAP expanded across the country by allocating additional schools to the four remaining partners in the LEAP program, this includes: 179 additional government public schools to Bridge Liberia; over a 100% increase in the number of schools supported by the organization; taking its total to 350 supported schools. 8 new schools to Street Child, taking the total number of schools to 40. 15 schools to UMovement taking the total number of supported schools to 40. No additional school allocation for Rising Academies which still supports 95 schools.

The expansion of the program means that 525 public primary schools are now benefitting from the Government’s LEAP partnership. Close to 1,500 government teachers were re-trained at the beginning of the 2021/2022 academic year to use modern child centered pedagogy and technology; giving an additional 60,000 students access to a quality education and the opportunity to build a better future. Overall, LEAP is now supporting over 130,000 students to fulfill their potential and help build a stronger more educated Liberia. The largest government partner in the LEAP program is Bridge Liberia. The expansion sees the operator working in four new counties: Gbarpolu, Rivergee, Grand Gedeh and Sinoe. The announcement emphasizes the MOE’s commitment to the improvement of its public education system using non-state actors, aligning it with the policy direction of multilaterals like the World Bank, USAID & Education Outcomes Fund. President George Manneh Weah recommitted his government’s support to making the education sector better: "My administration will continue to take steps in the direction of creating a better environment for young Liberians to prepare themselves so that they will be ready to take full advantage of the opportunities that are certain to present themselves, both now, and in the future,” Chair of the Education Committee at the Senate, Hon. Prince Moye said: “We will provide oversight to ensure every provider lives up to what they are committed to do, because we know that they are here to help improve outcomes, therefore we all need to support them as well.”

Chair of the Education Committee Lower House, Madam Mariama Fofana, commended the Ministry of Education for continuing to improve educational outcomes for students across Liberia: “We want to say thank you to the entire Ministry of Education for allowing Bridge Liberia, through LEAP, to do what they’re doing, and commit our cooperation and support at the national legislature.” The Minister of Education, Professor D. Ansu Sonii, making the announcement said: “We are proud of the decision we have made to expand our public education partnership program across the country. Liberia has many challenges and we believe that it is only with an educated population now, not in generations to come, that we will overcome them and build a safer and more prosperous future for our people. “We want our children to have different opportunities to their parents and for Liberia to have a brighter future. We have seen that LEAP works at improving learning outcomes and we believe it’s important for as many children and teachers to benefit as possible. “Quality education should be available for all. We are grateful to our partners who continue to work towards the improvement of the Liberian education system and pleased to continue to leverage partnerships that work towards enhancing the quality of education in Liberia. This is an exciting moment for our families, communities and teachers and we are proud to watch the program flourish and grow into the years ahead as part of our education sector plan.” The LEAP program was rigorously studied using a gold standard randomized control. Overall, learning increased by 0.26 standard deviations (SD’s) in English and 0.35 SD’s in math; combined this equates to more than a year of additional learning. For providers like Bridge Liberia students had the equivalent of 2.5 years of additional learning over the same period.


MOE: "Education Is Everybody’s Business" 2nd December 2021 The Coordinator of the Liberian Education Advancement Program (LEAP) at the Ministry of Education (MOE), Abraham Dagher, says that education is everybody's business and not just that of the government alone. He made these remarks recently in Marshall, Margibi County, at an official program marking the grand opening and taking over of the John Payne Mitchell Public School by Bridge Liberia. The takeover of said public school in Marshall is the latest addition among the 179 public schools allotted to Bridge Liberia to manage and support.

Education is everybody's business and not just the Ministry of Education alone. For us at the Ministry, we set policies and these policies, we also want parents to take them and make sure that they are translated into learning and ensure they are transformed into an integral part of our students' learning activities. According to him, the Ministry sets policies while education officers implement those policies as well as help transform the country’s educational system.

“We all know there are a lot of challenges, including the civil war, Ebola and the recent Covid-19, all of which helped to affect our education system, which led to the closing of schools. And Bridge has come along with other partners to support the MOE by ensuring that we provide quality education to our students.” Speaking about the current partnership, the LEAP Coordinator at the MOE, said the government will work closely with Bridge Liberia to ensure that they continue to do what they promised Liberians, and “we have seen the positive results from them after five years by demonstrating through learning gain and we are seeing it. We at the Ministry of Education have joined hands with our partner, Bridge Liberia, to help us in this regard to improve learning in our country. We want to say a special 'thank you' to Bridge Liberia for coming to support us to ensure that we change the paradigm of learning in Liberia.” Earlier, Bridge Liberia Managing Director, Gbovadeh Gbilia lauded the government through the Ministry of Education and stakeholders for working with them over years. Mr. Gbilia said working with the Ministry, especially under the administration of Professor Ansu D. Sonii as Minister, was not a mistake because the partnership is yielding a good result.

He added that taking over the John Payne Mitchell Public School was a high honour and they want to ensure that the future of Liberia' children is very bright. “This is an opportunity for us to say thank you to the parents for all you do for them by sending them to school, feeding and bringing them up the right way to be a better person in society,” said Mr. Gbilia amid a round of applause. For her part, Elfreda Norbia, Principal of the John Payne Mitchell Public School, also acknowledged the MOE and Bridge Liberia for the support. Madam Norbia described the takeover of the school by Bridge Liberia as a critical moment and turning point for education in Liberia, where Bridge is ready to change everything. She said, “Everyone needs to play a role. Bridge Liberia supports the MOE to significantly improve learning and teaching public schools by providing a better future for Liberians. We are delighted for Bridge to be working with our school and it is time for parents to foster quality and sound education for our children.”


Bridge Liberia celebrates year five in the Government’s LEAP Program 16th November 2021 Liberia has been re-elected as Vice Chairman of the Bureau of Education Commission at the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) for the next two years( 2021-2022). The election took place at the 41st Session of UNESCO General Conference and the 75th Anniversary of UNESCO in Paris, France which runs from November 9th to the 24th, 2021. Liberia’s Gbovadeh Gbilia was reelected overwhelmingly along with representatives from Dominican Republic, United Kingdom, India and Azerbaijan. In 2019 when Mr. Gbilia was first elected as Vice Chairman, he was the Head of the Education Delivery Unit at the Ministry of Education of Liberia. As Vice Chair of the UNESCO Education Commission, Mr. Gbilia will work in tandem with the Chairman from Dominican Republic to lead the Education Commission on education related issues such as; preparation of a medium-term strategy accompanied by programs and a budget financed adult literacy program.

Mr Gbilia will also deal with matters related to TVET Education, Higher Education, Framework design for the Implementation of Education Sustainable Development (ESD), developing international standards for Teacher Training Programs, establishment of a future International Bureau of Education, and coordination of and support for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4 – Education 2030.

Gbilia earned his MBA in International Business from the Howard University School of Business in 2011. He was awarded one of the highly coveted Trustee Scholarships in 2010, working as a graduate assistant in the Office of the Dean of the School of Business. He later went on to obtain a postgraduate diploma in Project Management from Galilee International Management Institute in Israel.

Currently Mr Gbilia serves as Country Director at Bridge Liberia, an international Education organization which operates in Liberia and many other countries in Africa.. Since 2016, Bridge Liberia has been supporting the Government of Liberia to transform the country’s primary public education system.

He served as Deputy Education Minister for Administration in the past government, where he also served as chair of the Education Sector Development Committee being responsible for coordinating all donor-funded projects. Mr. Gbilia expressed his thanks and appreciation to the Liberian Government for his nomination, their support and promised to work in elevating global education standards as well as his home country Liberia.


Liberia: Senate & House Education Chairs Put Weight Behind Digital Teacher Training

9th November 2021 Schools have reopened for the 2021 / 22 academic year after political education leaders attended a national teacher training closing ceremony in Ganta. Over a thousand government teachers are heading into classrooms fully equipped and trained as digital teachers.

As a result of the training, all teachers have been prepared with specific teaching principles, techniques, and technological skills that a contemporary teacher needs for the effective delivery of learning materials in the classroom.

Teachers are returning to schools after two weeks of training in specific classroom management techniques, praise and technology-based teaching methods to improve teaching and learning in schools across the country. The government is using a digital approach through its partner – Bridge Liberia – alongside improving teaching and learning the digital approach will help the government gather data in new schools joining the Liberian Education Advancement Programme (LEAP) as the government works on its new 5-year education sector plan.

At the end of the training, teachers responded with positive feedback and commended the Ministry of education and Bridge Liberia for what they described as hands -on practical training that would change their teaching career and benefit their students.

Both the senate and house committee chairpersons on education Hon. Prince K. Moye and Hon. Mariama Fofana attended the final day of the training and the graduation ceremony.

Bouyanue Latahn, a government teacher from Karn Public School, explained how the ‘cold calling’ (calling on all children to answer questions in class) and ‘narrating the positive’ techniques taught during the training will change her classroom presentation and the way she engages with her students when she returns. “I now know that as teachers, we should praise our students when they do good and ensure they are corrected in a way that is not negative and they can learn from” The teaching tablets, which became the highlight of the training, were issued to each teacher as an important teaching tool in the classroom. The tablets will enable teachers to track students’ attendance, and aid the process of lesson planning and delivery with

daily lessons sent to the tablets for presentation. This technology also saves teachers and school administrators the process of searching for books to do research and lesson planning, considering the many challenges of assessing learning materials in the rural parts of the country. Scholastic N. Wisseh of Kpanyar central high school in Sinoe county, puts it, “this technology will save me the time and resources needed to plan lessons, that time i will now use to actually teach and follow up on activities connected to the school community”. As teachers displayed some of the skills acquired during the training at the closing and graduation program, both lawmakers seemed impressed and also commended Bridge Liberia for contributing to the development of Liberians in the education sector. For his part, Hon. Moye spoke passionately ‘I challenge the teachers to return to the classrooms with new vigor and promised to continuously work in their interest as chair of the committee responsible to monitor and supervise education at the senate.” Education is the future of the country, its success will drive growth and a stronger future. Stakeholders are committed to ensuring that teachers have the tools to continue to deliver the change that Bridge Liberia and the Ministry of Education has spent 5 years delivering.


Ministry of Education Re-Trains Over 1,000 Government Teachers With Bridge Liberia Using Technology & Classroom Techniques Ahead of The Opening of Schools 29th October 2021 The Ministry of Education is retraining at least one thousand government teachers with their partner Bridge Liberia, ahead of the opening of schools for the 2020/2021 academic year. Teachers are gathering in Ganta from across the country for a two week training session designed to improve teaching and learning outcomes for students. The approach has been in use in Liberia’s public schools for 5 years already and has been evidenced as having a positive effect in classrooms. This year, the teacher training which is done at least annually, is even bigger than usual as the Ministry of Education is expected to significantly grow the national Liberian Education Advancement Program (LEAP) – where Bridge Liberia is the main partner – when schools reopen for a new academic year after the pandemic.

Many teachers are unused to using the technology or being supported with lesson materials in the way that the technology allows and the training is an important part of public schools joining the program. Speaking at the teacher training opening ceremony, Education Minister Prof. D Ansu Sonii commendended Bridge Liberia for the support they are giving the education sector in transforming the lives of young Liberians by improving learning gains across Bridge Liberia supported schools. He encouraged teachers present saying that

We are proud that you are here to gain knowledge that will make an impact on the future generation of this country. Make use of the skills you will get from here for the betterment of our country.

Teachers are excited to participate in these training sessions, considering the new approaches they learn. Many at the training say that they are excited about the training and proud that the Minister is so committed and focussed on helping them in their profession. . Victoria Bargblor, a teacher at Gborbho Central High school in Grand Gedeh who is newly joining a Bridge Liberia supported school and attending the training for the first time says she has so many high expectations, and is excited to learn new skills to prepare her for the new academic year. Teachers, principals, district and county education officers are all in Ganta for the training to support the Ministry of Education and Bridge Liberia as the organization prepares teachers and school administrators for the upcoming academic year.


Education Minister Sonii Visits Bridge Liberia “Super Training” in Ganta Ahead of the opening of schools for the new academic year, Bridge Liberia is conducting a critical training for all its Regional Managers and School Supervisors dubbed “Super Training” in Ganta, Nimba County. The quarterly ‘super training’ gives supervisors the skills to understand the various techniques of supporting classrooms, schools and school staff within the Bridge Liberia ecosystem. Supervisors have a key role, and the constant on the ground and individual supervision, support and feedback they offer to those in their areas, underpins the improved learning being delivered in schools. This time the supervisor training was made extra special because the Education Minister Prof. D. Ansu Sonii, Sr. decided to pay the Bridge Liberia team a surprise visit.

The Minister along with members of the Senior Management Team, MoE technicians, WAEC officials, and County Education Officers are currently conducting their annual back-to-school planning retreat at the famed Alvino Hotel in Ganta City, Nimba County. As part of the retreat, a visit to the Ministry’s largest education partner gave Minister Sonii an opportunity to encourage and inspire the school supervisors who are on the frontline of the improvements taking place in schools.

The Ministry, which is the regulator of the government’s policies on education matters, designed - and leads - the entire Liberian Education Advancement Program (LEAP) in which Bridge Liberia is the biggest partner.

The Liberian Government first partnered with trusted education providers in 2016, choosing those with a proven track record in delivering high quality education. The programme has been a long standing success and while some of the original partners are no longer involved, LEAP is shortly starting its 6th year and anticipated to increase the number of schools it includes. The length of the partnership is a testament to the government’s leadership and the strong working relationship they have forged with partners that have been there from the beginning.


Girls are the future, let’s educate them well – A call on International Day of the Girl Child As the world celebrates another Day of the Girl Child, under the theme ‘‘my voice, my future – the digital generation”, Bridge Liberia is joining the Liberian Government, and local partners to highlight the importance of girls’ education. In Liberia, a girl is more likely to be married by 18-years-old than to know how to read and 63% of girls between the ages of 15-24 are illiterate. As the largest partner supporting primary education in the Government’s (LEAP) Program, Bridge Liberia is a strong advocate of girls’ education and the importance and sees the education and empowerment of the girl child as important to the rebuilding of Liberia and the world at large. Nowhere is this more important than as the country emerges from COVID and looks to build stronger, more resilient systems – for this to be successful girls and women must be at the center of those efforts.

Bridge Liberia is a long-standing member of the United Nations Women’s Economic Empowerment Principles (WEP) and is ensuring gender equality in its school systems modelling its classroom activities to improve and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment; this starts with making sure girls can fulfil their potential in school. As Varbah Kollie of the 6th grade class at Intouch Public School puts it

I could not have topped my school if I did not have a great learning environment, dynamic and well-trained teacher.

Bridge Liberia designs its programming to improve opportunities for girls in and out of the classroom with gender focused teaching and classroom techniques. In a Bridge Liberia classroom, girls are tasked equally as boys, as teachers are trained to call on both boys and girls in the classroom to participate via a technique dubbed “cold calling; helping them learn equally; while gender sensitive instruction provides classroom materials that show girls as engineers. Doctors and pilots. The future of Liberia rests on the education of all its youth. In many communities the girl child faces serious struggles; but with the leadership of our government new opportunities are being created through programs like LEAP. These will help girls fulfil their potential and Liberia grow.


Bridge Liberia celebrates year five in the Government’s LEAP Program

The Liberia Education Advancement Program (LEAP) of which Bridge Liberia is the biggest partner is celebrating five years of partnership with the Liberian Government. In 2016, Liberia’s President and Ministry of Education announced Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL), an innovative public private partnership designed to transform the primary public education system, now known as the Liberia Education Advancement Program (LEAP). It was the first major public private partnership (PPP) education program in Africa; placing Liberia’s political leaders at the forefront of innovation and making them the most talked about education leaders in Africa. Originally, eight education providerswith proven track records in delivering high-quality education including Bridge Liberia were paired with public primary schools across Liberia.

Bridge Liberia Managing Director, Gbovadeh Gbilia sees this as a milestone for Bridge Liberia, especially as Bridge Liberia enters its sixth year of programming following the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we join the other providers and the Ministry of Education to celebrate this milestone, we recommit Bridge Liberia’s unwavering support to the Liberian Government in the primary education sector and we are so proud of the gains we have made so far in the sector thanks to the Ministry’s support.

Bridge Liberia has improved learning gains for students at Bridge Liberia supported schools by an equivalent of 2.5 years more of learning in just 3 years, according to a Gold standard study. The Bridge Liberia program is designed to support the Liberian Government to ensure that children have access to a quality primary education and that Sustainable Development Goal 4, focused on Quality Education becomes a reality for children in Liberia’s primary public schools.


UNGA 76 Opens In New York: Liberia’s President Engages in An Agenda Expected to Have Education at Its Core Under the shadows of the COVID pandemic, the United Nations 76th General Assembly is set to open today in New York with Liberia’s President George Weah joining his counterparts on the world stage to discuss issues affecting the wellbeing of nations and people. Unlike in 2020, when world leaders stayed away and delivered their prerecorded speeches by video, this year, some leaders have opted to attend in person taking into consideration social distancing while some will be joining virtually including President Weah.

It specifically endorsed the role of technology in improving learning outcomes and committed signatories to leveraging technology-supported learning to improve equity in access to education. President George Weah, in a recent nationwide statement, recommitted his Government’s support to the education system and called on Liberian students to take their education very seriously as the government does it part by making policies that will improve education.

No aspect of life has escaped the disastrous effects of the pandemic. That includes education. The World Bank’s Education Director, Jaime Saavedra, recently called the prolonged closure of schools worldwide because of COVID “the most serious education crisis in the last 100 years.”

I encourage all students to take their education very seriously, for it is the key to a better future. With certain major policy changes we have initiated, we are beginning to turn around the Liberian education system . As a leader who believes in the importance of education, I could not sit by and watch our students falling behind their counterparts in the region.

Learning is a science. It requires the gathering and processing of accurate data to deliver the best possible outcomes for children in schools, indeed to show that any progress is being made. Without data, there is limited measurement, little accountability and no improvement. The use of the same scientific and data-driven approach has brought huge learning gains in Liberia, where Bridge Liberia is the biggest supporter of the Liberian Government’s LEAP initiative in basic education. A three year study found that 81% of students who joined a Bridge Liberia-supported school in the first grade and spent 2½ years in class were proficient or basic readers; compared to only 33% of students in traditional public schools.


“We will continue to listen to you to determine how we can improve your educational experience” Pres. Weah tells Liberian students.

President George Weah has reaffirmed his Government’s support towards providing quality education to Liberian Students. Speaking at programs marking the celebration of Liberia’s 171 Flag Day, President Weah used the opportunity to encourage all students to see education as a tool that will better their lives saying: “I encourage all students to take their education very seriously, for it is the key to a better future”. At the event where the President traditionally speaks to the nation, he emphasised that his Government will continue to work with committed partners to ensure a better

education experience for all students. Taking the opportunity, he spoke about the deal he was asking the government to make with students saying that they must fulfill that part of the bargaining by staying in school and paying attention to their lessons:

I urge all students to take advantage of the opportunities that are being afforded to you. We will continue to listen to you to determine how we can improve your educational experience, such as improving school facilities, having more qualified teachers in the classrooms, and having better instructional materials.

The President and his Government have taken their commitment to education seriously; implementing one of the continent’s most innovative public sector education programmes, the Liberian Education Advancement Programme (LEAP). The largest provider within the programme, Bridge Liberia, has students taught by teachers trained on various academic & classroom techniques, school management and safeguarding training designed to provide better learning experience for students. Teachers are provided teaching tablets on which daily lessons are uploaded; with teaching and learning tracked by supervisors daily; giving the President and his ministry of Education near real time insight into the activities taking place in schools.


For Support, Improvements & Contributions To Liberia’s Educational Sector ; VP Taylor Hails Bridge Liberia Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor has commended Bridge Liberia, the Ministry of education’s main and biggest partner in the LEAP Programme for its support to the Liberian Government in the education sector. Speaking during a courtesy session with Bridge Liberia senior management headed by it’s Managing Director Gbovadeh Gbilia, the Vice President expounded how important it was for every government to prioritise quality education for its youth. According to the Vice President, Bridge Liberia which came into the Liberian education sector during a critical period and has made tremendous efforts over the years; she feels proud to commend these interventions.

Madam Taylor stressed the need for conversation around education to be holistic, taking into account equity for both girls and boys. In Bridge Liberia girls are not only encouraged to stay in the classroom; if they fall pregnant but young mothers are actively encouraged to return to school by the organisation. An initiative and approach which has now been adopted by the Government as a national policy. The Vice President reiterated the popular cliche that indeed education is the surest way out of poverty and emphasised how Bridge Liberia is supporting the Liberian government to prepare its future generation and build a different future for the country.

In brief remarks , Bridge Liberia Managing Director Gbovadeh Gbilia pledged the organization’s continuous support to the government to improve learning outcomes for every child currently in the Bridge Liberia programme and those anticipated to join as the reach of the work grows. It can be recalled that Bridge Liberia since 2016 has been supporting the government and is currently in 171 public primary schools in 11 of Liberia’s 15 counties. An independent three year study (RCT) showed statistically significant improvement in learning outcomes across Bridge Liberia supported schools. In a Gold standard RCT, students supported in Bridge Liberia programme were found to benefit by an equivalent of 2.5 years more of learning in just 3 years.


Why The GPE Summit Is About Much More Than Donor Money The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Summit taking place on July 28th and 29th will focus a spotlight on the gap in education funding around the world. So, admirable as the goal of raising at least $5 billion over five years in donor pledges to spend on global education may be, the solution to the lack of investment in education will not come from aid. Countries are predominantly going to have to find ways of helping themselves; and quickly. Domestic financing constitutes the lion’s share of resources to education in GPE partner countries: more than twothirds of education resources from domestic public expenditure.

This has long been recognized by African leaders and is why domestic financing is front and center of the GPE’s Raise Your Hand Campaign. President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is co-hosting the global Summit, is leading the calls for GPE partner countries to prioritise investing their own money in educating their own youth. However, much can be done by making sure that every existing cent already being spent is spent well; but effectively tackling the challenges in many education systems needs more than additional dollars. It needs strong political will and the absolute determination to deliver results by challenging and reforming what is measurably not working.

Protecting domestic education budgets and ensuring that we do not lose education momentum because of the Covid-19 pandemic will enable us to create more prosperous and resilient economies.

One example of this is the Liberia Education Advancement Programme (LEAP) , an innovative public- private partnership designed to transform the primary public education system. Four education providers-with proven track records in delivering high-quality education including Bridge Liberia were paired with public primary schools across Liberia. Currently Bridge Liberia is the biggest and main provider, supporting 171 schools in 11 of Liberia’s 15 counties with a total of over 37,000 students. During a recent visit at one of Bridge Liberia supported schools in Bahn Nimba County, President George Weah underscored the significance of technology in the education sector, pledging his government’s unflinching support to Bridge Liberia after being drilled through how the teachers use technology as a tool in the classroom.


Liberia: Students, Teachers Hail Bridge International for Emphasizing Effective Reading Skills When poor academic performance in Liberia today is emphasized, people no longer concentrate on students’ failure to solve mathematics or science problems but poor reading and writing skills—the fundamental basis of literacy. In recent times, people listening to the radio and reading the newspapers or articles written by others become annoyed by poor pronunciation, grammatical construction and misspelled words. English and Spelling are given more attention because the language is the source of communication for learning in this Anglophone state.

Though heavily criticized in Liberia upon taking over some public schools in the country in 2016, Bridge’s intervention in providing educational materials and emphasizing Reading in its operational schools are making a significant impact. Teachers and students of the J.W. Pearson Elementary/ Liberia Education Advancement Program (LEAP) Partnership School on Carey Street, central Monrovia, are expressing gratitude to Bridge for making the academic difference in their lives.

Having poor foundation in Reading, therefore, suggests that the student has a poor academic background, as it may be the case with scores of post-war Liberian students.

Teachers were not supervised before the coming of Bridge in 2016, but now they are supervised and provided curriculum tablets. The Principal has a smart phone through which she and Bridge monitor teachers. Bridge also brought many books for the students and it emphasizes Reading. Reading helps students to be better because when they are able to read effectively, they can sit any public examination and pass.

Meanwhile, the students’ and school authorities’ views about Bridge International Academies came coincidentally with the celebration of the Day of the African Child on June 16, 2021. Mohammed Gandhi Kamara, President of the Liberian National Students Union, reached out to students of the J.W. Pearson Elementary School on that day and provided some historical synopses of the declaration of the Day of the African Child by the African Union. Kamara in an interview lauded Bridge for its intervention in the education sector and recalled that in other parts of Liberia including Lofa County where he and his team had just visited, students cover long distances to attend school and they have bad classroom conditions.


President Weah Heaps Praises On Bridge Liberia 15th Feburary 2021 President George Weah was full of glowing words for Bridge Liberia after experiencing the educational provider’s use of technology in the classroom. While on the second leg of his county tour in Nimba County, the Liberian leader visited Bahn Extension Public School in Nimba County – managed by Bridge Liberia – and was amazed to see how the instructors were using tablets and their teacher guides as teaching tools in the classroom. Following a demonstration of the tablet’s functionality and explanation about the educational partner’s activities by the new Country Director GG GbovadehGbilia, President Weah expressed delight at the improvements brought to public schools being run by Bridge Liberia, noting that the efforts are directly in line with his vision for education in the country. President Weah, Finance Minister Tweh, and members of the Nimba County Legislative Caucus engages Bridge Country Director Gbilia& his team, teachers, and students.

During the COVID pandemic, the partner has continued to push the use of technology through SMS learning quizzes and virtual classrooms – reaching students, both from their schools, and from others, in the communities; in some cases bringing out of school children back to learning sessions. President Weah underscored the significance of technology and advancing our education system to be 21st century compliant; pledging his government’s unflinching support to institutions like Bridge Liberia determined to improve the sector through its innovative use of technology in our schools. “I went to De’VryUniversity, I know all about technology, it’s my area. I’m happy to see that the Ministry (of Education) partnered with you to bring this type of support to our schools” – President Weah states to the Bridge Liberia team, gathered officials and county leaders as the school students and crowd applauds.

For five years, Bridge Liberia has been an educational partner to the government of Liberia through the Liberia Educational Advancement Program (LEAP), running close to 200 public schools in eleven of Liberia’s fifteen counties. The organization utilizes the innovation of technology, supplying each principal & teacher across its schools with Teacher Tablets and smartphones to advance learning, thereby making it easier to teach, track teachers and students performance and attendance, and in turn positively influence learning outcomes. This style is already creating impressive progress with government partnered research showing that children in Bridge Liberia supported schools are getting years more learning than their peers who are not in technologically supported elementary schools. The President’s acknowledgement and praise of Bridge Liberia’s work comes at a time when the government is intent on ensuring the betterment of education in the country and has stepped up its school supervision.


2020


How President Weah’s Impromptu School Visit And Interest Has Enhanced And Strengthened Liberia’s Education Programme

7th December 2020 President George Weah was full of glowing words for Bridge Liberia after experiencing the educational provider’s use of technology in the classroom. While on the second leg of his county tour in Nimba County, the Liberian leader visited Bahn Extension Public School in Nimba County – managed by Bridge Liberia – and was amazed to see how the instructors were using tablets and their teacher guides as teaching tools in the classroom. Following a demonstration of the tablet’s functionality and explanation about the educational partner’s activities by the new Country Director GG GbovadehGbilia, President Weah expressed delight at the improvements brought to public schools being run by Bridge Liberia, noting that the efforts are directly in line with his vision for education in the country. President Weah, Finance Minister Tweh, and members of the Nimba County Legislative Caucus engages Bridge Country Director Gbilia& his team, teachers, and students.

During the COVID pandemic, the partner has continued to push the use of technology through SMS learning quizzes and virtual classrooms – reaching students, both from their schools, and from others, in the communities; in some cases bringing out of school children back to learning sessions. President Weah underscored the significance of technology and advancing our education system to be 21st century compliant; pledging his government’s unflinching support to institutions like Bridge Liberia determined to improve the sector through its innovative use of technology in our schools. “I went to De’VryUniversity, I know all about technology, it’s my area. I’m happy to see that the Ministry (of Education) partnered with you to bring this type of support to our schools” – President Weah states to the Bridge Liberia team, gathered officials and county leaders as the school students and crowd applauds.

For five years, Bridge Liberia has been an educational partner to the government of Liberia through the Liberia Educational Advancement Program (LEAP), running close to 200 public schools in eleven of Liberia’s fifteen counties. The organization utilizes the innovation of technology, supplying each principal & teacher across its schools with Teacher Tablets and smartphones to advance learning, thereby making it easier to teach, track teachers and students performance and attendance, and in turn positively influence learning outcomes. This style is already creating impressive progress with government partnered research showing that children in Bridge Liberia supported schools are getting years more learning than their peers who are not in technologically supported elementary schools. The President’s acknowledgement and praise of Bridge Liberia’s work comes at a time when the government is intent on ensuring the betterment of education in the country and has stepped up its school supervision.


Aiming for Educational excellence, Bridge Liberia maintains the effectiveness of its team 30th November 2020 Embarking upon every new journey requires better planning and adequate preparation if one must be successful. In education, this should be even more pronounced as inculcating knowledge to the future generation of any society is an arduous but rewarding and lofty task for institutions of learning and their staff. Every new school year presents the same challenges plus new ones while also creating opportunities in education to be explored. While the Covid 19 crisis has altered the opening time of schools, it has also led to different innovations that have impacted the educational sector positively. Bridge Liberia, a partner to the Ministry of Education (MoE) under the Liberia Education Advancement Programme (LEAP), supported schools are part of schools in Liberia that will be reopening in December for the new school year. Already, principals and staff of the educational provider are gearing up for the task ahead.

After some months of being away from mainstream teaching and managing of schools, Bridge is conducting trainings for Principals and teachers across different regions of the country in preparation of performing their various duties. Principals are being trained and refreshed in how to manage the affairs their schools, the instructional and support staff and the students. Effective school management is key to the successful running of a school. Having recognized this, Bridge Liberia has demonstrated commitment to ensuring that their principals are equipped with the necessary wherewithal to achieve this.

On the other hand, the teacher refresher is forcusing on teaching skills, organization culture, instructional systems, technology, classroom management, key subject areas and teaching practice sessions with peers and trainer feedback. At the core is ensuring there is clear understanding of health protocols when students return. Teachers are a major part of the educational ecosystem, in fact, the closest to the students. Hence, Bridge places premium on their ability to teach knowledgeably and effectively. As a government partner under LEAP the organization is focused on delivering impactful learning outcomes as already evidenced from the Randomized Control Trial. While the organization has achieved a lot with so many accolades and research reports to back up its excellence, it is not resting on those laurels but continues to push for the best out of its staff, all geared to the educational success of the Liberian child.


Radio Distribution and Audio Lessons Reaching Counties Across Liberia 4th October 2020 Remote learning programmes have been crucial to reach populations in underserved communities. One of the most effective channels is the use of radio and audio lessons. An innovative partnership with the Ministry of Education and Street Child in Liberia, has enabled Bridge Liberia to use audio lessons to reach thousands of children across 5 counties in the country. Street Child has been delivering radios to communities and has so far delivered 1,500 radios to 1,500 ‘households’; meaning a group of 4 children. The radios are distributed alongside timetables showing when parents and students should tune in to hear a daily lesson designed for each age group. In addition school members are constantly engaging the community to remind them of when the lessons are taking place and follow up to see how they go.

Bridge Liberia and the Ministry of Education’s teach by radio programme have collaborated to provide audio content in English, Maths, Social Studies and Science for primary school children. The lessons build upon each other and are 30 minutes long each. Based on the Liberian curriculum, the interactive lessons are designed to convey some of the material that children would be learning in the classroom if schools were open.

A partnership with radio stations across the counties for the provision of airtime and an ongoing community engagement programme has meant that children have been gathering – socially distanced! – to listen to the lessons at specific times each day.

The programme has meant that thousands of children are receiving 3 and a half hours of audio content each week and more importantly, its age appropriate. This is in addition to the rest of the remote learning content that school teams are distributing in communities across the country. This audio content complements the age appropriate mobile friendly quizzes that children across the county children are accessing through a free to use SMS shortcode (send 0 to 1225) or in some cases via WhatsApp; which are fun and interactive for students; help parents test their children and enable educators to see what children are learning.


Bridge International Academies Assures Liberians of Quality Education 2nd October 2020 Bridge International Academies has reassured the country of its continual provision of quality education across the country. In 2016, Liberia's Ministry of Education announced the Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) initiative, a public-private partnership designed to transform the public education system. Education providers including Bridge International Academies with proven track records in delivering highquality education were paired with public primary schools across Liberia Bridge International Academies was chosen as one of the first government partners.

For his part, the Coordinator for the Liberia Education Advancement Program (LEAP), Abraham Dagher said he forms part of the routine inspection on Wednesday September 23, 2020 to see how the partnership schools are doing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that everything came to a standstill in Liberia.Dagher said the partnership with Bridge is seriously meeting its objectives of revamping the education sector of the country. He recounted that the program was launched in 2016 with 92 schools with eight partners, but due to the success, the number has increased to 323 schools and over 90,000 students across the country.

There have been great improvements since the launch of the program. It was challenging from the beginning, but it is meeting its objective of improving the education of our students, environment and teachers as well. There are clear signs that the program is improving our children.

At the same time, the Deputy Education Minister for Instruction, Alexander Duopu said when it comes to the partnership schools, there are lots of public sentiments, but those partners are meeting the objectives of the program despite the numerous challenges facing them. During the visit at the Gbah Foboi Public School in Grand Cape Mount County, Minister Duopu toured the various classrooms to see whether the partner was in adherence to the health measures put in place for the reopening of schools. "I watched their learning, this is what we want. I saw the students and teachers with masks, hand washing buckets, and social distancing as well. The teaching is good. But they need security and janitors and we [government] need to play our part as well," Minister Duopu said. He further added "It was not easy from the beginning. They are helping us and we are to work together. The partners are doing very well."


Mainstreaming Women Empowerment Principles – A Path To A Gender-Equal Future 20th July 2020 The United Nation’s Women Empowerment Principles are seven and include: treating all women and men fairly at work, employee health, well-being and safety, education and training for gender equality, and measurement and reporting. These principles, when adhered to, can transform the sociocultural, economic, and geopolitical outlook of Liberia and any country. Yes, a few of them are already at work in Liberia, but a lot needs to be done to mainstream some of them. Educational institutions, like government and civil society, should play a key role in educating and training their employees to adhere to these principles. The UN is focussed on this as an issue and yet in Liberia, there is only one organisation signed up to these principles. Research shows that Bridge, an education provider in the Government’s LEAP programme, has signed up to the UN WEPs, making Bridge Liberia the only organization in Liberia to have stepped up so far.

It is great that we have an organization prepared to act as a role model for women’s rights and empowerment but now we need more. Signing up to the principles, means that Bridge can act as a role model for other organisations in the country and a champion of female empowerment issues. More importantly it sends a clear signal to female students, teachers and employees about the commitment and support that it has for the female empowerment agenda.

Both male and female students at elementary level need to grow up knowing that females should aspire for and be accepted in high level leadership, in politics, the judiciary and any other sector. They need to know that men and women should be accorded fair treatment at work with no regard to their gender. All students need to be accorded gender equity.

If our students grow up in schools where girls and boys are equal and empowered and the organisation that they are educated and supported by openly values and supports that empowerment, we will build a brighter future. They will grow up taking initiatives in their communities and advocating for issues that matter to them and have no belief that those actions and initiatives would ever be limited by their gender. These principles have already been part of Bridge’s way of developing the full potentials of Liberian children, especially girls. Signing up to the UN’s WEPs shows even greater commitment from Bridge to women empowerment and places greater responsibility upon the entity to ensure zero tolerance to any act inimical to women advancement. Hopefully, more entities will sign up to the UN WEPs as we all seek to create a more equal world, even as we mourn and memorialize a national female icon in the deceased Representative Munah Pelham Youngblood.


Powerful female role models inspire girl students; they will not let COVID-19 hold them back 29th June 2020 It was March when the Ministry of Education closed the doors of Liberia’s schools. Since then, students have been at home without the usual routine of classrooms, teachers and classmates. We have been here before, with Ebola and with the Civil War – classrooms were shut and learning was put on hold. This time though, it is different. The Government swung into action swiftly to roll out a remote learning programme that would give Liberia’s youth access to education even if it did not have access to classrooms. At its heart are the partners from the Liberian Education Advancement Programme (LEAP) – the national government programme designed to make Liberia’s education system a shining beacon in Africa.

One of the concerns was that once out of the classroom, girls would find it difficult to return. The LEAP programme designed by the government has worked hard to bring all girls from communities into the classroom and tackle issues of child marriage and pregnancy. Part of this has been about ensuring that there are role models that girls can look up to during their learning and aspire to be.Some children like little Lucia Toe,in Grand Kru, want to be president one day because she was inspired by the ultimate Liberian female role model – President Ellen Sirleaf.

Bridge is one of the LEAP government partners who believe that one of the best ways to support girls in the classroom and encourage families to send them, is to have female role models who show what is possible.

There are a number of powerful female teachers and principals in Bridge supported schools who are passionate about the importance of education; and show the girls in their classes and schools why it’s important. Many female teachers and principals have been on journeys themselves, progressing up through the school’s organisation over the years, continuing to grow and achieve. One government teacher, Lovetta, had been working in public schools two years before joining a LEAP school. She worked at Togar McIntosh in Rivercess County as a teacher in grade 2 and was later transferred to the Upper Careysburg Public School in Lower Montserrado. Lovetta was ambitious and her potential was quickly spotted and she was promoted to become a school supervisor where she supports teachers in eight public schools across Harper, Maryland County. She is an impressive role model for girls and their families in her communities who have seen her succeed and want to succeed as well.


Why Government Partnerships Makes Sense For Delivering Education 21st June 2020 Like in 2016 when the Government of Liberia designed a public-private partnership (now the Liberia Education Advancement Program – LEAP) with Bridge Liberia, UMovement, Street Child and Rising Academies and other non-state providers to run public schools, disagreements, and criticisms from some legislators and civil society have continued to this day. Recently, an education coalition and the National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL) renewed the usual critiques after some furloughed employees (as a result of Covid-19) had complained about the process, despite partners such as Bridge living up to the Ministry of Labor’s mandate per the COVID guidelines for the organization to pay nonessential staff half of their salaries, when not working. Now, NTAL are working with two former employees in the LEAP programme who were dismissed for breach of contract; to help them in their campaign with a spree of unfounded and made-up allegations against the education provider, Bridge.

NTAL is happy to continue their campaign, teachers who are working hard and getting support, are not. While many mainstream media entities have seen through the allegations of angry ex-employees, a few others have continued to peddle the false claims with complete disregard for the facts which have been outlined. Others will think twice about working in Liberia and bringing funding into the economy if they have to work in an environment where truth and facts are unimportant. It has become messy, again. Ironic when the aim is to get from MESS to BEST. Despite the unfounded critique from these quarters, former Education Minister George Werner recently weighed in on the debate, expressing optimism that

Public-private partnership is the future for education in Liberia.

Mr Werner believes Bridge is mostly being criticised once again because it is the lighting rod for the education program. LEAP’s success raises challenges for the development sector as a whole when it has seen the advances made by private providers in government systems. People are worried, not only about the success of the programme but the success of a big organisation in public education; even if it’s as a government partner. Bridge presides over the highest number of schools, and the expectations are high both in terms of learning and team performance. That is right and it is what we should expect from all institutions if we are serious about growth and prosperity. Mr Werner in fact expressed support for this approach “If somebody is not up to the mark on the job, it is not like our public sector where they would go to someone to beg. In the private sector we have a company to run, you can’t go there and expect to become a politician, pushing allegations to undermine the institution, damaging the chances of our youth, you should get pushed out.”


The Country Is Pulling Together To Tackle COVID19; Falsely Attacking Long-Term Government Partners Is Unhelpful 10th June 2020 Remote learning programmes have been crucial to reach populations in underserved communities. One of the most effective channels is the use of radio and audio lessons. An innovative partnership with the Ministry of Education and Street Child in Liberia, has enabled Bridge Liberia to use audio lessons to reach thousands of children across 5 counties in the country. Street Child has been delivering radios to communities and has so far delivered 1,500 radios to 1,500 ‘households’; meaning a group of 4 children. The radios are distributed alongside timetables showing when parents and students should tune in to hear a daily lesson designed for each age group. In addition school members are constantly engaging the community to remind them of when the lessons are taking place and follow up to see how they go.

Bridge Liberia and the Ministry of Education’s teach by radio programme have collaborated to provide audio content in English, Maths, Social Studies and Science for primary school children. The lessons build upon each other and are 30 minutes long each. Based on the Liberian curriculum, the interactive lessons are designed to convey some of the material that children would be learning in the classroom if schools were open.

A partnership with radio stations across the counties for the provision of airtime and an ongoing community engagement programme has meant that children have been gathering – socially distanced! – to listen to the lessons at specific times each day.

The programme has meant that thousands of children are receiving 3 and a half hours of audio content each week and more importantly, its age appropriate. This is in addition to the rest of the remote learning content that school teams are distributing in communities across the country. This audio content complements the age appropriate mobile friendly quizzes that children across the county children are accessing through a free to use SMS shortcode (send 0 to 1225) or in some cases via WhatsApp; which are fun and interactive for students; help parents test their children and enable educators to see what children are learning.


Bridge Liberia Supports Government In Home Learning As Coronavirus Spreads 1st May 2020 It’s another weekday when kids should be in school at Little Wlebo Public School in Maryland County, Southeast Liberia but all hopes are dashed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. There is no school in sight, all schools including the Bridge LEAP supported government school her children go to in this locale, have since closed due to government’s regulation to try and curb the virus. Madam Lago Louise, a refugee now based in Liberia for almost a decade, hopes of having her kids learn in the free government school programme operated by Bridge Liberia seems all but ended. She sits at Little Wlebo Refugee Camp pondering on what else can happen to her family, after war ravaged her beloved Cote D’ivoire and took away her husband. Life challenges her again, as the Coronavirus pandemic rages in Liberia and in her home country. Thirteen deaths so far and nine hundred plus cases recorded put the Ivory Coast far ahead of Liberia with just 141 cases at the moment and several recoveries.

Bridge Liberia has created Bridge@home; distributing daily learning guides and student activity sheets in communities and online as well as posting using social media channels; SMS and What’s App. The materials are freely available and allow all parents – and home educators- to access for their children’s use. The easy to use materials are accompanied by parent friendly guides and answer keys. They are following the curriculum as they would in school. Former Education Minister, George Werner has highlighted that

When schools closed, children lose an anchor to the education system that makes it much less likely they will find their way back. It is critical to provide an alternative as quickly as possible to keep them engaged. This was a problem during Ebola when it took too long to get emergency education radio broadcasts going.

In Liberia, we cannot expect that parents and communities can all access online materials; this is why it is important that the online remote learning programming is just one aspect coupled with the radio and SMS initiatives; that are complementary. Unlike in other countries, Liberia is not using a range of disparate programmes but a package that works together and is designed to reach all communities through one or another channel. For Liberia, the progress and impact are being felt as a random call to parents like Lagos has proven that kids are learning and having fun via radio while being watched by parents.


2019


Success! Final independent RCT results show LEAP equates to more than a year of additional learning for students 18th December 2019 The Liberian Education Advancement Programme (LEAP) is a public private partnership with eight non state actors designed to improve school management in order to bring about improved learning outcomes for students across the government school system. In parallel, in 2016, the Ministry of Education commissioned a three year Randomised Control Trial (RCT) designed to study and measure whether LEAP did indeed improve outcomes. The RCT was conducted by the Center for Global Development (CGD) and Innovations Poverty (IPA). The Ministry’s ultimate vision is to transform learning for all 2,619 public primary schools across the country. Overall, LEAP’s learning gains equated to more than a year of additional learning for Liberia’s public primary school children.

In 2016, 62% of primary school aged children were not enrolled in Liberia. Thirty-five per cent of women and 21% of men could not read a single sentence. LEAP had a singular goal, to improve learning outcomes for Liberian children. Uniquely, LEAP has thrived under two different administrations having being implemented as Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) under President Sirleaf and continued as LEAP under the leadership of President Weah. Strong political leadership and a clear focus on improving schools for Liberia’s children trumped the struggles signature policies often face with regime change.

In year one, the initial RCT results revealed that learning gains had increased by 60% in the programme overall. The metric that the Government wanted to measure, gave early indications that the programme could be very impactful.

The RCT has drawn much attention and its publication has been eagerly anticipated by a myriad of stakeholders; by the Government that seeks to make policy decisions based on the learning outcomes it evidences; by philanthropists keen to understand whether their support has enabled impact; by the global development community who are concerned that SDG4 will be unattainable without tested innovations that can deliver at speed and scale; by governments who are increasingly seeing education as the route to prosperity and growth; and of course by the providers themselves who have spent four years in some of Liberia’s most impoverished communities trying to give children a brighter future. That is a lot of pressure to sit on the shoulders on one RCT. Ultimately the question that everyone wants answered, is after all the work, funding and debate: Did LEAP significantly improve learning outcomes. The answer is, yes.


Three years on, a new study shows government programme has significantly improved learning outcomes 12th December 2019 UNESCO’s Vice Chair of the Education Commission and Head of Education Delivery at the Ministry of Education in Liberia, Gbovadeh Gbilia, has released Learning in Liberia a co-authored study assessing the learning progress made in Bridge supported schools as part of the Liberian Education Advancement Programme (LEAP). The study finds that 81% of students who joined a Bridge supported LEAP school in the first grade and have now spent 2½ years in a Bridge classroom are proficient or basic readers; compared to only 33% of students in traditional public schools. The government’s ambition is for all Liberian children to be proficient readers by the time they finish their primary school education. Significantly, the new study reveals that 53% of grade three students in a Bridge supported school have now achieved proficiency. A dramatic difference from the prevailing situation in non LEAP schools where only 8% of children in this grade reach reading proficiency.

LEAP is a bold initiative developed by the Government of Liberia four years ago to increase the quality of pre-primary and primary education across the country. Uniquely, it has thrived under two different administrations having being implemented as Partnership Schools for Liberia under President Sirleaf and continued as LEAP under the leadership of President Weah. Strong political leadership and clear focus on improving schools for Liberia’s children trumped the struggles signature policies often face with regime change.

In 2016, 62% of primary school aged children were not enrolled in Liberia. Thirty-five per cent of women and 21% of men could not read a single sentence. LEAP had a singular goal, to improve learning outcomes for Liberian children.

In addition, the impact on girls’ education is particularly noteworthy in a country where previously only 39% of girls completed primary school. Results across almost all grades show a reduction in the gender gap that Bridge-supported LEAP schools inherited in its opening year. In literacy, most performance gaps have been completely eliminated. In the past 2½ years, 5th grade girls’ average performance on passage reading fluency increased by over 27 words per minute. Once lagging by 10 words per minute, girls now outperform boys. Equipped with evidence, and confidence of the learning gains being achieved by its children, the government has now expanded the LEAP programme into its fourth year to reach 225 primary schools across the country. Its ultimate vision of transforming learning for all 2,619 of its public primary schools is within reach. By putting education at the heart of its public sector transformation agenda—the Liberian government has proven that poverty is not destiny.


Education Minister Says ‘Government Grateful’ for all Development Partners 21st November 2019 Liberian Education Minister, Professor Dao Ansu Sonii was an honored guest and keynote speaker at the 40th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO in Paris, France on the 15th November. He used his speech to make a rallying call about education; focusing on how it underpins peace and prosperity in his country and highlighting the importance of investment and partnership in Liberia The Minister spoke to the international development community about the importance of education in his country and Government saying that the President for Liberia “Has placed education at the top of his lifechanging priorities calling it a major public sector investment priority. Liberia commits to education even more now, since the hosting of a national summit [in Liberia] on this subject at the inception of this government in 2018. The outcome of the summit concluded with a global call for significant investment in education, combined with the outcomes of the joint education sector review in 2018.”

One of the items on the agenda for the JSER is the recent expansion of the Liberian Education Advancement Initiative (LEAP); which seeks to improve free government public schools across the country. The programme has now moved into its fourth year and as a result of the academic success that the Ministry has seen in these schools over the preceding three years, the programme has now increased to include well over a hundred more schools impacting thousands more Liberians students.

The President of Liberia has repeatedly declared Liberia as a welcoming place for investment and partnership. We urge you all [UNESCO delegates] to ensure that the initiatives of the Liberian government continue to construct the strong role of peace, tolerance and protection which are imperatives of national development, and guaranteed through education.

Finishing his remarks to a packed audience, Minister Sonii declared that “Liberians believe that peace and stability are the foundation of education. We have come to know that the absence of peace, is poverty.” “We are all too aware of the importance of education for the future and prosperity of Liberia and we applaud the Minister for continuing to call on the international community to embrace public private partnerships; invest in the country and support the Government in its ambitions.”


Bridge Liberia meets Nimba County Educational Stakeholders as mass Government teacher training exercise gets underway 26th August 2019 On the sidelines of the start of an extensive government teacher training exercise in Ganta City, Nimba County, Bridge Country Director, Griffin Asigo has met with educational stakeholders of the county. The discussion paved the way for the Nimba and Bridge teams to discuss educational improvements taking place in the county and plans for the future. Director Asigo praised the people of Nimba for their increasing commitment to education; their continuous hospitality and their contribution to the success story of Bridge in Liberia so far. Bridge runs seven public schools in Nimba as part of the Government’s impressive LEAP programme. The teacher training exercise is bringing hundreds of teachers from across several counties to Ganta and training them to use modern child centered teaching approaches to enthuse students and improve learning ahead of the start of the new school semester.

During the meeting, Asigo promised Bridge’s continuous support to students, teachers and communities across Nimba in ensuring that the promise to deliver quality education to every child is achieved. “We cannot stop until we have changed the trajectory of learning in the country. Education is the key to success, and we bring technology in the classroom to provide quality lessons to the teachers bringing well researched teaching methods to the implementation of the local curriculum. Supporting teachers to succeed and improving teacher capacity building through training and coaching is vital,” he said.

We will also continue to collaborate more with the county education office to ensure there is knowledge sharing and monitoring support through the Education Officers. Local Education Official support is key to sustainability of the LEAP program and complements provider inputs at the schools.

The Nimba County Superintendent said he is delighted that for the next ten days hundreds of teachers will benefit from an intensive training and upskilling programme helping them master new and improved ways to manage their classrooms and teach children. More importantly he is delighted that the training will not stop there and that from now on, in LEAP, they will continue to have support and coaching to go higher and higher. One of the new teachers undergoing the training programme , Martha Daibolo of Kpai Public School in Bong County, central Liberia expressed excitement over what they are learning at the training. She said booting a tablet for the first time is a wonderful experience. ‘We are learning how to teach from computer, do classroom scanning and management plus new super cheers that make classroom experience exciting’ she narrated. Opening ceremonies of the Bridge Liberia teacher training event.


THE PATH TO SUSTAINABILITY FOR THE LIBERIAN EDUCATION ADVANCEMENT PROGRAMME (LEAP) 11th July 2019 In 2016, Liberia – one of the poorest countries in the world – embarked on the world’s most innovative publicprivate partnership in education. Its government was determined to improve learning outcomes for children. Now three years in, it’s time to revisit whether the dramatic learning gains for students in the Partnership Schools for Liberia’s (PSL) first year have been sustained. If they have, it would be a strong indication that the Liberian Ministry of Education is on the right track with its reform program “Getting to Best.” Research showed initial learning gains equivalent to 60 percent more learning for PSL overall, and more than an additional year of learning for students in schools operated by the most successful providers.

PSL, now rebranded as the Liberian Education Advancement Program (LEAP), has been heavily subsidized by philanthropists and donors. The government of Liberia’s current investment in schooling, approximately $50 per student annually, is clearly insufficient to achieve the bold vision contained in “Getting to Best.” The Ministry of Education has previously stated its intermediate-term goal to double the government’s education investment by 2020. Even at that, the average per pupil expenditure for operators’ (excluding Bridge) is slightly more than double this anticipated increase to Liberia’s education budget.

Bridge International Academies, the LEAP partner with the highest overall investment, spent an estimated $373 per student in the program’s first year. It was clear then and remains so now that the LEAP operators must close this gap between current expenditures and projected funds available to ensure its sustainability.

Bridge third grade students who enrolled in the program’s first year and have remained there since are performing as well as its fifth-grade students did just two years ago. 53 percent of these third-grade students are proficient readers and 28 percent are basic readers, compared to none in either of these categories just two and a half years ago. The contrast to typical Liberian school students is stark. According to a 2012 USAID study, only seven percent of Liberian third-graders achieved the 50 words per minute benchmark for oral reading fluency. Sustainability remains an important consideration for the LEAP program, but as operator efficiencies lower costs and the evidence accumulates for student performance gains, it provides hope and optimism that better education is within reach for all Liberian students.


Bridge Liberia holds exciting graduation ceremonies for thousands of kids nationwide 8th August 2019 With the country having gone through a devastating civil war and the debilitating effects of Ebola, education reformers in Liberia needed to make a radical U-turn in order to transform the public education system. Out of this desperation for change, the Ministry of Education announced in 2016 the Partnership for Schools (PSL) initiative which has now been renamed to the Liberian Education Accelerated Program (LEAP) under the Weah-led government. At the onset of this drastic policy shift, Education Minister George K. Werner proudly declared that “Thousands of children are enrolled in schools, taught by re-invigorated and re-trained government teachers, supported by energized parents and resilient communities. I am proud of what has been achieved so far. The future of hundreds of thousands of Liberian children, their communities and our nation is at stake. We must not fail them,” Werner said.

Our experience with the PPPs has been about three years. There are a number of targeted results that we have seen and experienced. We believe that under the current circumstances, the current financial constraints of my government, the need to have a partnership in these areas of teaching and learning, we believe with what we’ve seen, the experiences we’ve had, the number of students benefiting so far, the quality of teachers that get into this classroom, the type of supervision being provided, the type of educational supplies in addition to what we have given, the enhancement of curriculum for these kids; we shall continue with it, we have made a determination already and I think it works.

Now, supporting his predecessor’s vigor for a paradigm shift in the Liberian education system, current Education Minister Professor D. Ansu Sonni too recently informed a global gathering of public-private partnership providers and sponsors that his government fully supports the program.Fast forward to a fortnight ago, Bridge Liberia, one of the government’s LEAP service providers, was marking the official end of the 2018 academic calendar with graduation ceremonies at all of its 68 schools across 10 of the 15 counties in Liberia. Marked by outstanding academic performances and presentations from graduates of the kindergarten and sixth-grade classes, the closing exercises saw parents, schools administrators, county education officials and senior government officials praising the outcomes of the Bridge schools in Liberia just three years after signing of the partnership with the government of Liberia.


Liberia: Ministry of Education Praises Bridge International Academy 28th July 2019 The Ministry of Education on Friday, July 19, extolled the education focused international NGO, Bridge International Academy, of being supportive to the educational sector of Liberia over the years. The assertion was made at the K-2 and 6-grade graduation exercises of the Sanoyea Elementary Public School, one of the Bridge’s sponsored schools in Sanoyea District in Bong County. MOE’s Communications Director and Public Relations, J. Maxim Bleetan, who proxy for Bong County Education Officer Rev. Armah Varfee as guest speaker of the occasion, said over the years the Bridge International Academy has contributed immensely toward the improvement of education in the country.

The MOE Communications Director then frowned at parents who are reportedly involved in giving their girl children into early marriage and taking their children from the regular school to the Poro and Sande societies to discontinue. However, he clarified:

Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that our culture should not be practiced but let us do it during the vacation time so that we can give chance to our children to complete the school year.” “You are impeding your girl child’s future those of you who are involved in giving your girl children into early marriage. You need to allow the girl children to make their own decision when they are matured.

The Country Director of Bridge Griffin Asigo said his institution’s main objective is to work with the Ministry of Education in creating an enabling conducive learning environment through the training of teachers and the provision of essential textbooks for students and teachers. He said as part of the partnership the Ministry of Education is to ensure that every child has a teacher that teachers are placed on government payroll and that learning is taking place every day. He said his institution is operating in 10 of the 15 counties. Eighty-four students received certificates following completion of the nursery and six grade classes, while some of the teachers were also honored for their outstanding commitment to duties.


‘We Will Continue to Appeal for Support for Private Partnerships in Education’-– Says Education Minister Prof. Soni 28th March 2019 Education Minister Professor D. Ansu Sonii has rated the Private Partnership Program (PPP) in Liberia highly at the Global Skills and Education forum held in Dubai, saying ‘I think it [LEAP] works’. The Liberian Government sent the Education Minister to talk to investors and stakeholders about the success of LEAP and secure further support and donations for the programme so that it could expand across the country impacting more children than the 53,000 currently served. Minister Sonii praised the learning gains, supervision, educational supplies, curriculum enhancement and quality of teachers amongst key reasons to continue the program that has been in Liberia for three years now, though he was quick to mention the financial constraints of the government admitting they have not being able to deliver their commitments to the PPP.

The Minister at the same time used Dubai’s education gathering to appeal for more support to the program as there are reported serious financial hurdles so far in running the exercise:

We will again continue to appeal for support for private partnerships in education. As it is you already have privately-run schools. That’s private partnership, but those are fee based, the emphasis is on public school deliveries which are funded entirely by governments. Resources have been limited before, they are limited now, and they will be limited for a long while. Under the Convention on the free and compulsory basic education Liberia signed to it, wellintentioned but the intention and the capacity do not match. Now we cannot go back on that decision so we need funding and partners to help us accomplish this.

There are currently seven providers initiating the PPP program in Liberia with at least sixty eight of said schools being run by Bridge, a social enterprise which operates in multiple African countries and is rated effective for student learning outcomes and teacher support and empowerment. The Liberian Minister praised and thanked partners under the Liberian Education Advancement ProgramLEAP who are doing exceptionally well and undertaking some of government’s responsibilities which they do not have the resources of finances to deliver like paying teachers, doing renovations and taking care of other administrators etc.


2018


Bridge schools enable every child to fulfil potential regardless of background new DFID report reveals 17th October 2018 The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has published a report in Nigeria which shows full equity of learning in Bridge International Academies classrooms, regardless of a child’s socioeconomic background. It is a strong endorsement of DFID’s commitment to innovative private sector’s role in improving service and opportunity for these families. Even though the report was based on Bridge schools in Lagos, Nigeria, the findings clearly have relevance in a Liberian context where the social enterprise supports Government schools as part of the Liberian Education Advancement programme. The DFID report makes clear that at Bridge schools, and only at the Bridge schools, parents’ income and education was not correlated to children’s learning outcomes. This is a landmark finding – demonstrating that children from even the poorest families attain the same learning as those that are better off if the child attends Bridge. This is what we should always find at every school – that the school itself is ensuring that each child, regardless of family background, can achieve their full potential.

This will be cause of celebration for poor families across Liberia whose children are in Bridge supported Government schools and, for those that hope to be if the Ministry expands the programme in the future. The DFID findings contradict decades of global education research trends that demonstrate family background matters more than the school a child attends, in relation to levels of learning. At Bridge, this is not true.

The findings of the independent study that show the need to build the regulatory capacity of government to support school management systems and processes that are necessary for improved learning outcomes in both public and private schools.” they added “this study will contribute to the growing body of evidence on the role of private sector provision of education in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report marks an important milestone in the debate around Bridge’s role in helping poor families access quality education. The UK Government now recognises that “the private sector, as well as the public sector, contributes to the provision of high quality education and that DFID therefore needs to work with the private sector as well as the public sector to improve education outcomes for children. The CEO of the IFC, Philippe Le Houérou, supported this view at the World Bank annual meetings in Bali last week, saying that: “We need to be imaginative and find new and more creative public-private solutions and, in many countries governments are seeing the potential of working with the private sector.” The Liberian Ministry of Education has made clear that education is at the top of its agenda. The new findings from DFID will only add to the evidence that it is possible to make schools equal playing fields and ensure that no child is left behind.


Liberia: Legislators Want LEAP Program Extended to All Public Schools at Education Officers Summit 18th September 2018 The Senate Committee Chair on Education, Dallas Gueh is recommending that the LEAP Schools program be extended to all public schools in Liberia. LEAP is the acronym of the Liberia Education Advancement Program. It is the new name for the public-private partnership that the Ministry of Education has seven local and international education service providers. The previous name was Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL). Speaking at the opening of a County Education Officer Summit held by Bridge on 11 September in Monrovia, Senator Gueh said it cannot be fair that some government schools are performing well – thanks to benefitting from the program – while other government schools not in the program lag behind with students learning slowly, if at all. Bridge is one of the partners of LEAP. Hon. Gwaikolo told the gathering that he is impressed by the level of work that Education Officers are doing nationwide and encouraged them to do more.

The Nimba County Lawmaker used the occasion to thank the new administration at the Ministry of Education under the leadership of Prof. D. Ansu Sonii for the reduction in the number of schools allocated to EOs, something according to him will enhance effective monitoring and supervision. He then promised his committee’s commitment to working closely with the MOE as LEAP develops over the next few months. Hon. Gwaikolo praised Bridge and other providers for their commitment to helping advance kids’ education. He expressed his amazement at the technological advancement in government schools today and said that he thought that the technology underpinning Bridge run schools could deliver transformational change in Liberia.

The development of our kids is a primary responsibility for all of us.

According to the lead facilitator and Bridge Deputy Country Director, Mr. Joe Gbasakollie, the Summit was the first of two regional summits that Bridge is holding in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry of Education. The Ministry mandates all LEAP partners to conduct formal engagement with County Education Officers to enable the latter to monitor and supervise their work. Additionally, the summits will empower EOs to hold Bridge accountable for the work it does in the education sector and improve coordination and collaboration among stakeholders at the field level. Bridge Country Director Marcus Wleh commended the Education Officers for their participation and engagement in the summit referring to them as ‘Bosses’ of the most important cause in Liberia; the education advancement of its children. He said Bridge Liberia will remain accountable to the Ministry of education in supporting the sector.