Transforming Education in Liberia: Prospects and Challenges

Liberia has enjoyed a long, now past history of excellence in education. History and circumstances have placed a long trail of challenges in her wake leading to a huge vulnerability of its structures and institutions in education. The near back-to-back occurrence of the protracted war, coups, Ebola virus disease, the covid-19 pandemic and the threatening resurgence of these diseases along the way, have created humanitarian crises situations that impacted on all social services and majorly in education.

Age groupNumberPercentage of total female populationNumberPercentage of total male population
10-14290,024 12.4302,44412.7
15-19250,021 10.7259,14010.9
20-24205,273 8.8211,5258.9

With a predominantly youth population of 40% under age of 15 and schools being the first social services to be sacrificed in their use as safety points for displacements, a major threat looms with the increasing rate of out of school children (up from just of over 50% in 2015 to its current 57%), constituting a strong threat to a second decade of learners lost to education.

(Source: GLOBAL Revision of the World Population Prospects 2017)

A crisis looms in the loss of learning, increasing dropout of students from school, empty classrooms, loss of confidence in education and the apparent non-alignment of real needs and interventions. The fact that early learning is still low with less than 20% of children benefitting, foundational literacy and numeracy have not yet rallied with no measure of learning achievement documented as yet, and classroom support for teachers still at the initiation stage, an urgency has been created that demands the attention of all stakeholders.  

The situation belies the bold attempts at mitigation with extant policies reviewed and updated, currency of education sector diagnosis and plan (2022-2026/7) which relied on  2019/2020 data and a determination to generate up-to-date data with 2020/21 and 2021/22 in the pipeline for collection and completion this year that now is the time to bring all stakeholders on board to discuss openly and collectively i)national education issues ii)review and harness extant and emerging opportunities, iii) take a hard look at the challenges and galvanize a collective energy to redress the issues.

  • The Transforming Education Summit (TES)

The Transforming Education Summit convened at the 7th session of the UN General Assembly on 16,17 and 19 September 2022 was in response to a global crisis in education – one of equity and inclusion, quality and relevance with a view to transforming education between now and 2030. Often slow and unseen, this crisis is having a devastating impact on the futures of children and youth worldwide.

Liberia, along with other Member States actively participated in the stakeholder consultation meetings with the objective of providing a unique opportunity to elevate education to the top of the global political agenda and to mobilize action, ambition, solidarity and solutions to recover pandemic-related learning losses and sow the seeds to transform education in a rapidly changing world to narrow down on issues that pose persistent challenges in the sector, some of which are underlying and recurrent; and from this Summit Liberia arose with a bold statement of commitment to address head-on the issues that bemoan the education sector in Liberia.

This stakeholder conference is an opportunity to consolidate on these statements and address other issues that underpin the lack of progress in the sector.

  • Ministerial Directive

Honorable Minister for Education, Prof. Ansu Sonii, in fulfillment and follow-up to the government commitment during the TES, and with full endorsement of the Senior Management Team of Ministry of Education has agreed with UNICEF through its Representation, Ms. Laila Omar Gad, to hold a National Conference on Education in Gompa City, Nimba County from December 8-10th, 2022.

A Seven members Secretariat chaired by the Deputy Minister for Planning, Research and Development (MoE) and Co-chaired by the Assistant Minister for Basic & Secondary Education (MoE) was established to adequately plan, organize and coordinate, with support from UNICEF, the holding of the National Conference on Education 2022.

  • Objectives of the Conference

In defining the National Conference on Education objectives and themes, the focus will be on the following issues among others:

  1. Improving access for Out-of-School Children and other children at risk: girls’ participation in education; and strengthening of child friendly school environments.  
  2. Improvising learning: addressing educational loss due to COVID; foundational learning; integrating 21st century skills; and Teacher capacity innovations in teaching and learning.
  3. Policy regulation and implementation; data generation and utilization; monitoring and supervision of schools  
  4. Financing of education: innovative funding for education; donor alignment and stakeholder mapping.
  5. Climate change resilience

In sum, the conference will address the following specific themes/objectives:

  1. Theme #1: Addressing the challenge of fulfilling the Right to Education, with specific reference to access for OOSC and children at risk and addressing the bottlenecks to the execution of education plan and policy.
  2. Theme# 2: Promoting accountability, creating demand, empowerment and engagement of key stakeholders in education provision.
  3. Theme #3: Addressing the cumulative learning loss from Ebola/COVID-19, improving foundational competencies, integration of 21st century skills and strengthening teacher capacity.
  4. Theme #4: Enabling predictable Education Sector financing, donor alignment, and local resource mobilization.

The thrust of the conference is on implementation issues and what can be done moving forward. Adopting the not-business-as-usual approach, the conference will be strongly tilted towards implementation and all identifying and resolving all issues that challenge implementation. It recognizes the prevalence of policy frameworks and guidance tools and so would need to deepen the commitment to roll out, monitoring and supervision.

Conference sub-themes

  1. The right to education for the most vulnerable (OOSC) and challenges in executing education sector plans/policies to meet these rights.
    1. Situation analysis focusing on a summary of ESA.
    1. Challenges for access of OOSC through data analytics
    1. Challenges to the right to education: a bottleneck analysis of the execution of the ESP over time.
  •  Strengthening the demand for education, accountability and empowerment of stakeholders and including young people.
    •  A stakeholders consultation report on education by Traditional leaders.
    • An expenditure tracking study by joint committee on education;
    • Young people voices.
  • Addressing educational loss, addressing foundational competencies and 21st century skills for the market as well as teacher capacities.
    • Educational loss and innovations in learning;
    •  Foundational learning and 21st century skills.
    • Strengthening teacher capacities/innovations.
  • Education financing including donor alignment, and programme-based budgeting.
    • Programme based budgeting.
    • Donor alignment.
    • Local resource mobilization.
  • Justification/Rationale

A major justification/ rationale for this conference is the need to create national awareness and collaboration among Education Stakeholders across the board on the need to contribute and take on the challenge of rebuilding education in Liberia; having all the voices in the room and having all accept their roles and responsibilities is empirical to making education work for Liberia.

  • Participation
  • Executive
  • Legislative Branch of Government
  • Line Ministries
  • Donor agencies / Development Partners (USAID, World Bank, UNESCO etc.),
  • United Nations Country Team (UNCT)
  • Traditional Leaders
  • Educational County Boards
  • Private Schools Secretariats, Private Providers
  • Students Representation (LINSU etc.)


  • Expected Conference Outcomes:
  • A National Education Conference Resolution: Futures for Education in Liberia 2022-2026/7 to include:
  • National agreement on the issues that limit educational progress in Liberia;
  • National agreement on the practical and implementable solutions(short term-long term)
  • National agreement on timelines: roll-out of resolution, funding and modalities of accountability
  • Aide Memoire that clearly defines the high level monitoring committee headed by the office of the Vice President.
  • Methodology

The National Conference on Education will be launched by the President or the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia.

A consultancy firm will be procured by MOE with support from UNICEF to work in collaboration with the secretariat team of MoE to provide conference technical support and management to include:

  1. Preparing and edit documents
  2. Manage expert presentations as well as reports
  3. Selection of presenters in consultation with the Ministry of Education for each of the plenary presentation topics.
  4. Selection of Panelists in consultation with the Ministry of Education for each of the plenary presentation topics.
  5. Selection of Conveners in consultation with the Ministry of Education for each panel 
  6. Drafting of the National Conference on Education Resolution with the aim of a High level pitching of the conference at the Vice President to Presidential levels.
  7. Drafting of Aide Memoire in consultation with the Ministry of Education and UNICEF

The Ministry of Education Task Team will be responsible to manage the logistics provided by UNICEF for Program coordination to include:

  1. Program coordination (planning meeting, sector coordination and mobilization, and communication)
  2. Duplication of resource materials
  3. Guidance of attendees including lodging and transportation for participants

The conference will deploy the following methodologies:

  • High level pitching of the conference at First Lady or Vice President to Presidential levels.
  • Expert presentations
  • Plenary- All meet to open and debrief. Three plenaries envisaged.
  • Panel discussions – A selected speaker who will prepare a short presentation on an assigned issue along thematic lines (1-12 above which may be combined for ease of managing the sessions). About five panelists will be selected to deliver short statements and their own takes on the issue. Then the audience contributes. There will be a Chair for each panel.
  • Break out discussion – This will be a session where participant join any themes of their interest do discuss as will be guided. However, purposive selection will be made for certain areas such as having Traditional rulers in some groups and themes.
  • Aide Memoir… will include a clear way forward including a high level monitoring committee at the First Lady or Vice President.
  • Conference Resources and Materials

All resource materials will be made available to panelists and discussants. These will include:

  • TES Documents and Statements of Commitment
  • The National Quality Standards Tool
  • The ESA (2022)
  • ESP 2022/-2026/7
  • ELDS
  • Teachers documents

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