On World Teachers Day, the United States joins the global community in honoring teachers around the world for the critically important work they do to prepare succeeding generations for their roles in society.
The celebration of World Teachers Day this year coincides with a key milestone achieved by the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) new teacher training program, Transforming the Education System for Teachers and Students in Liberia (TESTS). Working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the National Commission on Higher Education, and eight public, private, and faith based higher education teacher training institutions, USAID recently provided the first batch of tuition assistance support to 18 talented and dedicated Liberian teacher-aspirants. They are the first of 575 Liberians scheduled to receive tuition support from USAID in 2023 to help professionalize Liberia’s teaching workforce. By the time the TESTS program ends in five years, it will prepare at least 3,500 teacher aspirants for future classroom success with two-years of tuition assistance, improved curricula, and a practicum as part of an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree program in early childhood and primary education. This support will help address Liberia’s qualified teacher shortage problem.
The United States has long recognized the importance of helping to provide qualified teachers for Liberian schools. Some of USAID’s very first development projects in Liberia were in teacher professional development. They include the two oldest teacher training institutes in Liberia, the Zorzor Rural Teacher Training Institute, and the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute, both established with USAID funding in 1962 and 1964, respectively. These institutions have trained many current teachers and continue to recruit high school graduates and award them C-certificates after two years of teacher training.
With its new teacher training program focused on supporting students to pursue degree granting programs in early childhood and primary education, USAID is building on the gains of these institutions. USAID is also strengthening the capacity of the higher education teacher training institutions with which it is partnering to implement the new teacher training program. The partner institutions are the University of Liberia, Cuttington University, Nimba University, Adventist University of West Africa, African Methodist Episcopal University, Bassa University, Lofa University, and the Liberian Cooperative Education School System. USAID is working with these institutions to harmonize the curriculum for early childhood and primary education, provide faculty professional development opportunities, and grants to help improve the quality of training they provide for early childhood and primary education teachers. The institutions are recruiting teacher-aspirants from rural communities in the counties in which they now live. The goal is to help ensure that newly trained teachers remain in their counties improving the quality of education for children in rural communities.
Congratulations to the future teachers who are receiving tuition assistance from USAID and committing themselves to getting the training and experience they need to deliver high quality instruction to Liberia’s school children. Congratulations to all the teachers in schools across Liberia, who every day do what teachers do: inspire tomorrow’s leaders, help them pursue their dreams, achieve their goals, and contribute to their country’s development.