April 16, 2015
Six months ago, few would have dreamed an April trip to Liberia would have been possible. Kudos to the government of Liberia, citizens, international community, World Health Organization, and many brave and committed health workers, who successfully eradicated the terrible Ebola virus.
The purpose of our April 6-18 trip was to solidify partnerships and lay the groundwork for a nationwide initiative, the Samuel Morris Scholars Program, to bring computer-based learning and character training to schools throughout Liberia. Representing IEI were Randy Carman, Elijah Tarpeh, and Gary Friesen. Joining us was Zackery Major represented the Sinoe County Association in the Americas (SCAA).
Productive meetings were held with officials at the highest levels in government, education, and the corporate sector. The highlight of the trip was a personal meeting with Liberian Vice President, Dr. Joseph Bokai, who hosted our delegation in his home. We had two engagements with the Minister of Education, Honorable Etmonia D. Tarpeh, and members of her cabinet. Dr. Emmit Dennis, President of University of Liberia (UL), and Dr. Emmanuel Bailey, President of United Methodist University (UMU), welcomed us in their offices and were enthusiastic in their support. We discussed corporate partnerships with Dr. Henri Harmon, Vice President of Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL), and Mr. Nathaniel Jallah, media relations executive from Exxon Mobile. We enjoyed many other meetings and informal encounters with business leaders and non-governmental organization (NGO) workers.
The most critical objective for the trip was to set up a five-school pilot to validate the KA-Lite model that we believe will transform the teaching of mathematics in schools across Liberia. A year ago, the team from Taylor University and the SCAA witnessed outstanding results in the 3-day mathematics workshop for 64 students conducted at the GVL school in Sinoe County. We met with the principals and math teachers from the same five schools that participated in the 2014 workshop, and all were enthusiastic about participating in a more formal two-semester pilot. Careful data will be collected to assess outcomes and guide the program moving forward. UL and UMU will also be participating in the pilot, testing the effectiveness of KA-Lite and the RACHEL Library in the college setting.
Especially encouraging was the positive reception to our proposal to include with KA-Lite a curriculum on character and leadership development. After we shared the story of Samuel Morris with the Ministry of Education cabinet, Ms. Etmonia Tarpeh looked around the room and stated that every student in Liberia should know the story of Samuel Morris and be taught the values he embodied!