Every great country knows and understands that their real wealth is not stored in banks and currencies but rather the hearts and minds of it’s people. Which is why investing in human capital development is very important. However, accessing quality education is a luxury for most families in Liberia.
There are very few schools that offer quality education at affordable prices. The Beautiful Beginning School, located in Harbel, Margibi County is one of those schools. The Beautiful Beginnings School is a Christian school focused on delivering quality primary education to students. The school was founded in 2007 by Rev. Ollie White and begun operation with 4 classes –- nursery, kindergarten i, ii and 1st grade. 45 students enrolled with 4 teachers and 1 supervisor in the first year. BBS was housed at the Harbel multilateral high school for the first five years of operation. The school was intentionally started in the Harbel public market area to provide access to quality primary education to low income families and was able to acquire 2 lots of land from Firestone in the market area where they built their own facility. As of the 2017/2018 academic school year, BBS registered a total of 417 students, 211 boys and 206 girls. BBS also employs about 35 staff. 8 in Administration, 17 teachers, 2 aids, and 8 support staff.
BBS Evidenced Based Learning Interventions
BBS uses an evidence based learning approach to teaching. The approach aims to develop professionalism and excellence in delivering quality primary education services in a physically and psychologically safe environment. Over the years, BBS evidence based learning approach identified 3 key areas that needed improvement in order to improve students learning outcome.
Controlling Classroom over crowdedness
Students need both psychologically and physically safe environments to study and express themselves. The school, in response to this finding is constructing a new building so that the classrooms can have enough space for students to freely express themselves. The classes that have more students will be divided once the new building is completed. The intention is to have at most 25 students per class.
Improving Teacher Quality: Action research
BBS conducted an action research as a part of the evidence based learning approach employed by the school’s business model. The objective of the research was to identify key challenges to improving learning outcomes for students. One of the challenges that have been identified and tested is the quality of teachers. If teachers are not properly prepared to teach, the learning outcomes, save some extremely bright students, will be low. The findings of the research will be shared once the research is completed.
Improving Time on Tasks – workbook development
The traditional method of instruction – hand writing notes and exercises on chalkboard for students to copy- takes away valuable time from the classroom learning time. In response to this challenge, BBS will conduct a 12 hour retreat at the end of July 2018, to develop student workbook. The teachers will develop the workbooks for subjects and grades based on the lesson they have been teaching over the years. The workbook will have the notes, exercises, quizzes, homework and exams for the school year. this change will increase teaching, classroom discussions and practice time and reduce time spent writing notes on and copying notes from the chalkboard.
In order to adequately prepare young Liberians for leadership more schools need to follow the leadership of BBS and put quality education delivery over making money. When educators begin to do this, more and more Liberians will be reached early with knowledge and skills that they can use to build Liberia. Remember, education is the weapon we can use to fight poverty and change the world. Let us stop robbing our people of the knowledge and skills they need to build this country. Every educational institution should be held at high standards and people need to pay attention to these three key things when making the decision to enroll in any institution:
- Physical space – is the facility being used to provide instruction conducive? Is there enough space for everyone? do they have enough seats for everyone? Are they using proper tools to provide instructions? Before you make any payment, make sure its worth your money.
- Teacher quality – it is your responsibility to find out who will be providing the lectures/instruction/teaching. Are thy qualified? Are they trained? Do they have the right experience and tools? Make sure you’re paying for quality services.
- Materials – it is your responsibility to find out what kind of training materials and books will be used to teach. Are they recent? Is the information accurate? Where are they coming from? Are they relevant to the Liberian context? Pay attention and also demand value for your money. Don’t take a back seat in yours or your child’s education. Be an active player and a decision maker. Find more information and never stop pursuing excellence.