Liberia Everyday: School

Students begin arriving at Great King Academy around 7:30 a.m. The bell rings for morning devotions and announcements at 7:45 am. Ma Annie, principal and 1 st /2 nd grade teacher, leads the students in songs. Sunday School songs, the school song and the national anthem are sung. The uniforms are inspected to be sure everyone is neatly dressed for school. Ma Annie leads the students in the morning devotion and prayer for the day. After the Liberian flag is raised and daily announcements are made, the students are dismissed to their classrooms. Great King has four self contained classrooms. Preschool (known as ABC), Kindergarten, 1 st /2 nd and 3 rd /4 th each have one teacher. 5 th through 8 th grade have subject teachers. We have a math/science teacher, social studies teacher, Language Arts teacher, and Bible/Writing teacher. These teachers move from class to class in 45 minute rotations.

First session is from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and then recess. The students are free to buy little snacks from visiting vendors for about 5 to 20 cents. Then the second session begins and concludes at 1:30, when the hot lunch is served. The rice was donated from FUEL, however, coal for cooking, oil and vegetables are purchased so 20 cents is charged for a big bowl of rice. Sometimes several children share one bowl.

In Jan, the 5 th through 8 th grade finally got textbooks in the classroom for reading, language arts, and math. Imagine how hard it is to teach without textbooks! The teachers are so excited. They spend most of their time writing handwritten lesson plans since there are no teacher edition books. Now that our teachers have books, they can focus on student assessments.

Most Liberian schools are brick and zinc buildings with big windows to let light in since schools don’t have electricity; the window is the only light in the classroom. The classroom has a black board, the most essential tool of teaching, and an array of desks. Sometimes “chairs” are cinder blocks or benches made from bamboo. In some schools, students bring their own chairs. There are no books in Liberian classrooms. The only books that might be seen belong to the teacher.

Sometimes it seems amazing that Liberian students learn at all.

– Peggy Halvorsen Liberian Coordinator 

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