Author: Janet Shriberg, Jackie Kirk and Rebecca Winthrop
Full Citation: Shriberg, J., Kirk J., & Winthrop, R. (2007). Teaching well? Educational reconstruction efforts and support to teachers in postwar Liberia. New York, NY: International Rescue Committee (IRC). Retrieved from http://www.ungei.org/resources/files/doc_1_Teaching_Well_-_IRC_Liberia_Report-1.pdf
Target Population(s): Teachers
Overview: The aim of this research paper is to inform Liberian educational stakeholders and international policymakers of the significance of support for teachers in early reconstruction efforts by examining recent impacts on teachers themselves and the quality of education they provide.
Methodology: This case study of Liberia draws on eight months of field research (February through September, 2006) with more than 700 teachers from nine counties. The study was designed to capture the diversity among Liberian teachers with respect to their age, sex, geographic residence, linguistic preference and teaching experience. In this way, both female and male teachers were included, with varying ages and with diverse backgrounds in teacher training, qualification and years of teaching experience. The sample draws from public, private and missionary schools from nine counties in Liberia, both urban and rural. English was the primary language used with participants, although a translator was used in cases where another language (for example, Grebo, Kissi, Lomo, Mandingo, Mende, Kpelle) was preferred. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected and combined the use of in-depth interviews, focus groups, semi-structured questionnaires and document review.
Findings: Recognizing the heterogeneity among teacher populations in Liberia and, more widely, early reconstruction programs worldwide, the findings illuminate similarities and differences of teacher experience with relation to their sex, geographic location, training and teaching experience. The findings also demonstrate the broad social-organizational realities confronted by Liberian teachers, the impact of these on their own well-being and their perceptions of the quality of education they provide. Specific policy recommendations are then suggested to address the findings. Ultimately, this report provides impetus to the new Liberian government MOE’s interest in improving teacher support; it uses recent data to argue that without attention to the on-the-ground practice of teacher support, it is unlikely that reconstruction programs will effectively advance.