MONROVIA – U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Michael McCarthy joined Liberian education officials and stakeholders to celebrate the completion of a five-year early reading program that has dramatically improved student skills primary education in six of Liberia’s 15 counties.
The USAID Read Liberia program was launched in 2017 and has helped the government of Liberia reach 180,000 1st and 2nd graders in 640 public primary schools with improved early grade reading instruction in six counties, including Lofa , Bong, Grand Bassa, Nimba, Margibi, and Montserrado. In addition, more than 5,000 kindergarten students benefited from improved reading skills and vocabulary, while more than 4,500 teachers were trained in the use of early grade reading methodology, and 391 418 teaching and learning materials were distributed.
In addition, the program improved the oral vocabulary literacy skills of approximately 2,700 kindergarten students from 60 public preschools and resulted in approximately 57,000 grade 1 and 2 students being able to read grade-level texts. with ease and understanding.
Students in Read Liberia schools can now read nearly twice as many correct words per minute as students who read just 14 words per minute before the launch of the USAID-funded Read Liberia program. These interventions resulted in a dramatic increase from 13% to 35% of Grade 2 students achieving the national reading standard of 35 correct words per minute.
Speaking at the event, Ambassador McCarthy said the United States shares Liberia’s vision that investing in quality education is a powerful driver of development and one of the most powerful instruments to reduce poverty and improve health, gender equality, peace and stability. “The US government will continue to invest in the education of young Liberians, especially at the primary level. Because research shows that quality investments at this level have significant multiplier effects throughout children’s lives,” said Ambassador McCarthy.
In his remarks, the Assistant Minister of Education for Fiscal Affairs, James Massaquoi, thanked the US government for supporting the program which has impacted the lives of children in Liberia. He said now is the time for parents to move beyond being passive observers, but rather become actively involved in their children’s education.
Using research conducted by USAID and its partners, the program was designed to help the Liberian government fulfill its commitment to improve evidence-based reading instruction, provide instructional materials and learning and improve reading instruction in the classroom, service delivery, parents, community, and private sector support.
To further support the Ministry of Education, Read Liberia worked with the ministry on revising existing materials and developing new teaching and learning materials, including teacher guides, instruction books, student activities, storybooks, extra readers for Kindergarten and Years 1 and 2. Over 15,395 textbooks and other teaching and learning materials were distributed to teachers and students. The activity engaged 635 parent-teacher associations to support early grade reading activities that empowered parents and other community stakeholders to become leaders in their school communities to encourage and foster a culture of excellence in reading.
The Read Liberia activity applied international evidence-based best practices, built on previous early reading programs, and strengthened the Liberian education system through integrated technical assistance to the Ministry of Education.