Dear Colleagues, Partners, and Friends,
As you know, I was one of three ministers asked to remain in our positions in order to facilitate a smooth transition from the previous to the new administration. I have been proud to be part of such a historic moment, supporting the first peaceful transfer of power in Liberia for more than 70 years.
As I now hand the baton to my successor, Prof. Ansu D. Sonii, I am confident that the Ministry and our education system are in good hands. I would like to take this moment to wish him and his team great success in the years to come.
This moment also provides an opportunity for reflection. When I was appointed Minister of Education in 2015, I could not have imagined how much we would accomplish in such a short period of time. Hand-in-hand with local and international partners, we have made tremendous progress rebuilding our education system from the ground up.
Our thorough analysis of the education sector and our comprehensive “Getting to Best” plan have laid solid foundations upon which future achievements can be built.
Our teacher vetting and assessment exercise has provided the basis for essential training and development of our education workforce. We have vetted more than 15,000 teachers and removed more than 1,900 “ghost workers” from the payroll. This has generated more than US$3 million in savings per year, which has been reinvested in hiring more than 1,300 trained graduates. Training programs are now underway, to support teachers’ professional development and improve teaching quality across the country.
The bold and innovative Partnership Schools for Liberia program is already jumpstarting a cycle of positive change across the education system. In just the first year of the program, an independent evaluation has shown that students in PSL schools are learning 60 percent more than their peers in traditional public schools. The evaluation also found significant improvements in school management and a higher quality of teaching at PSL schools. Learnings from the program are now being applied to hundreds of schools across the country, helping to improve education quality for tens of thousands more Liberian children.
PSL has also generated much-needed investment in our education system. Just this year alone, US$2.8 million has been approved and a further US$2 million has been identified to support the 194 schools in the program, including funding an expansion in disadvantaged, rural areas.
We have secured an additional US$11.9 million through a grant from the Global Partnership for Education, which is set to dramatically improve access to quality education in disadvantaged communities. Beneficiaries of the program will include: approximately 40,000 Early Childhood Education students who will benefit from school grants; 1,400 teachers who will benefit from training to improve their effectiveness to teach ECE and primary level students; 1,500 principals who will benefit from principal certification training; and 98 district education officers who will benefit from capacity-building activities.
We could not have achieved these results without the steadfast support of partners like you. With your continued collaboration, I have no doubt that the new administration can build on this strong foundation to achieve even greater success in the years ahead.
The Education Delivery Unit will play a key role in ensuring a seamless transition to the new administration, working closely with the incoming minister as well as the new deputy and assistant ministers. I know they will be in touch with you in the days and weeks to come, and they are of course always available should you have any questions about this process.
Finally, I would like to extend my gratitude to President Sirleaf for giving me the opportunity to serve my country, and to the talented and hard-working team that I have had the pleasure to serve alongside. I hope you will join me in providing a warm welcome to the new team and thanking the outgoing team for their dedication.
I will of course remain available to support the new government and the Liberian people in whatever way I can.
George Kronnisanyon Werner