President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says that since Peace Corps Volunteers resumed activities in Liberia in October 2008, they have made a “big quality difference” in the country’s education sector.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader, speaking at the Foreign Ministry’s C. Cecil Dennis, Jr. Auditorium, at the swearing-in of 40 new United States Peace Corps Volunteers, said the program is significant and timely, because of the urgent need for qualified instructional staff in the country’s public schools.
President Sirleaf said that although school enrolment is at its highest since the past decade, the quality of education has not kept pace. “Inadequate trained teachers, the lack of appropriate education materials and facilities, such as laboratories and libraries, have all contributed to falling short of the quality that we seek,” she pointed out. However, she noted, since the Peace Corps Volunteers returned to Liberia, there has been a steady improvement in students’ output, as evidenced by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) results in Mathematics, Science and English over the last two years.
She was also elated, the President continued, because for the first time since the Peace Corps Program was suspended in 1990 due to the civil conflict, Peace Corps Volunteers will be assigned in all 15 counties, the final expansion to the southeastern counties of Grand Kru, Maryland, River Cess, River Gee and Sinoe.
“The impact of the presence of 80 Peace Corps Volunteers serving at 40 public high schools and five universities and teacher training institutes will be immeasurable,” the Liberian leader passionately said, adding, “Thanks to the Peace Corps, our teachers are becoming better trained, at Cuttington University, the University of Liberia, Tubman University, Kakata and Zorzor Rural Teacher Training Institutes.”
In addition to teaching, President Sirleaf commended the Volunteers for the extra initiatives and for going the extra mile in such areas as improving school management, initiating new training procedures to interested counterparts, facilitating library creation, encouraging student and parent organizations, and promoting career opportunities, among other activities.
The Liberian leader further disclosed that, beginning this September, under the Peace Corps Program and in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and UNICEF, 120 newly trained Liberian National Volunteers will for the first time work alongside Peace Corps Volunteers in public schools around the country for a year to help develop their skills and engage in volunteer service, as the U.S. Peace Corps are doing.
She thanked senior staff of the Peace Corps Country Office who have departed, and welcomed the new arrivals. President Sirleaf made special reference to the outgoing Country Director, Mr. Vincent Groh. “Thank you, Director Groh, for being so passionate about Liberia, and for always being there to support our requests,” she said, hoping that Liberia will retain a special place in his heart. Mr. Groh takes up a new position as Chief of Operations for the African Region, responsible for all 25 Peace Corps countries in sub-Saharan Africa at the Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
President Sirleaf thanked U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac and the U.S. Embassy staff who have been real champions in promoting this program. She also thanked the Ministers of Education, Youth and Sports and Foreign Affairs who also played their part. The Liberian leader gave special thanks to the 38 host families who opened their homes to the Volunteers during their eight-week orientation in Liberia.
Speaking earlier, the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, Ron Acuff, who proxied for U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac, said the Peace Corps Program represents a partnership with the Government and people of Liberia. Although the Peace Corps operates in 75 countries around the globe, he noted, it is clear that Liberia is among the most welcoming and most supportive of host countries. He specifically thanked the Ministries of Education and Youth and Sports for their collaboration with the Peace Corps and the Volunteers, and said they should all be proud of the results they have achieved.
Mr. Acuff recalled that the return of Peace Corps Volunteers to Liberia began with President Sirleaf’s request to President George W. Bush in 2007 and since then, with her vision and support of the Program, it has grown every year and expanded to include more counties. He later swore in the 38 Peace Corps Volunteers and two Response Volunteers.
Introducing the 40 Peace Corps Volunteers to President Sirleaf, the outgoing Country Director Vincent Groh, said the mission of the Peace Corps in Liberia is to assist the country in creating high-quality educational opportunities for its most promising, but least advantaged girls and boys and to help Liberia build its next generation of leaders.
Mr. Groh disclosed that, besides the 40 Peace Corps Volunteers sworn-in, later this month the Program will welcome another eight Response Volunteers who will represent a significant step forward in their efforts around teacher training. “These eight Volunteers will join three other in-service Volunteers and will be placed in teacher training roles at the various teacher training institutes and universities,” he said, adding that they look forward to playing an increasingly significant role in the training of the next generation of high-quality teachers for all of Liberia’s schools.
In her remarks earlier, the Education Minister, Mrs. Etmonia David-Tarpeh, said the need for the reconstruction of the educational system cannot be over-emphasized. “We see that need for the reconstruction of our system and you, Peace Corps Volunteers, have come to answer to the call,” she stressed, adding that the emphasis is the children in the various schools.
She thanked Ambassador Malac for the personal efforts in getting the process on, as well as the American people who had seen the need to help Liberia’s educational system, especially its Science, Math and Reading programs.
Youth and Sports Minister, Mr. Lenn Eugene Nagbe, stated that by some strange coincidence, Monday, August 12, also being International Youth Day, 135 Liberian National Youth Volunteers had just completed their orientation, and that 120 of them will be partnering with the Peace Corps Volunteers around the country. “These Volunteers have been trained and re-trained, and 120 will be in education, while the rest will be in the areas of health and agriculture,” Minister Nagbe said.
He thanked the Peace Corps Volunteers who are here to serve Liberia, and characterized them as a shining example for young people. “With them working with you, I believe we can achieve the progress that we all want.”
The new Peace Corps Volunteers take up their new two-year assignment across the country beginning Tuesday, August 13.

Advertisements