Education International
Education International

The ALPO/NTAL Rural Teachers Housing Project in Liberia

published 4 August 2009 updated 4 August 2009

Two Liberian teacher unions ALPO (All Liberian Professional Organisation) and NTAL (National Teachers Association of Liberia) have launched a community based project to construct adequate housing in rural areas for teachers.

Rebuilding the Liberian education system in the wake of the protracted 14 year civil war means attracting students and teachers alike back to the classroom. In 2006 over half of Liberia’s school age children were not in school. The government decision to abolish primary school fees has been instrumental in tackling this, with enrolment increasing by 40 percent in the subsequent year.

Tackling the teacher shortage is equally crucial as Emmanuel Fatoma, Coordinator in the EI Africa Regional Office, explains, “The country’s teaching force was depleted during the war. At the moment 60 percent of the country’s teachers are either unqualified or underqualified. Deployment of qualified teachers to rural areas has therefore become a Herculean task.”

He continues “In some areas with schools of 300 pupils, there may be two volunteer teachers implying that even the head teacher is not qualified.”A combination of poor housing, poor facilities and isolation from urban amenities make teachers reluctant to move resulting in higher pupil-teacher ratio outside of large towns. “Almost invariably there is an oversight for housing for teachers.”

The teacher unions have stepped in to address the problem, partnering on a construction project in consultation and coordination with local communities on the construction of two- and three-bedroom houses. Emphasis is placed on local resources and expertise. Fatoma highlights, “The project will be supported primarily by local efforts – land, wood for doors, windows and roofing, bricks from local soil and labour”.

Formally launched with initial support from Education International and with the blessing of the Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf the project will begin in earnest after the rainy season in October 2009.