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Critical Thinking-Liberia

WE-CARE collaborates with community colleges in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, and the University of Liberia in upgrading the pedagogical skills of teachers in the classroom. This collaborative effort is focused on critical thinking, lesson planning, and delivery methods in the classroom.

 

Critical Thinking-Liberia also runs a radio program on ECOWAS Radio called "Beyond the Classroom" that reaches most of the counties and neighboring countries.

The goal is to use Critical Thinking-Liberia to create a cadre of critical thinkers who will one day use their thinking skills to make personal and national decisions that impact their lives.

A strong teacher training program that incorporates proven best teaching practices is one of the pillars for improving teacher performance and student learning outcomes. WE-CARE Foundation, a certified member of Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking International Consortium (RWCT-IC) through Critical Thinking Liberia (CT-L), a teacher training program, is offering its services to train and certificate teachers and teacher educators in the best teaching and learning methods and strategies for active learning and critical thinking, the pivot for an environ where students are learning to become active, participatory and productive citizens.

In 2008, WE-CARE along with RWCT-IC (Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking International Consortium) and CTI (Critical Thinking International) with support from the Open Society Institute (OSI), conducted the critical thinking training for the first group of recruited teachers to staff the three Rural Teacher Training Institutes (RTTIs). Over the years, WE-CARE has continued to work with schools and other learning institutions introducing the methodologies and strategies for Critical Thinking using the CTI and RWCT-IC module. This model of teaching has proven to be so effective that the National Teachers Association in 2014, through its Canadian affiliation, has adapted the RWCT lesson plan framework to be used as the standard lesson plan format for its teachers.

 

 

WE-CARE’s Critical Thinking Liberia (CT-L) program, with support from the Open Society Foundations (OSF), continued its work aim at promoting the quality of teaching and learning in Liberia. This is in furtherance of WE-CARE’s goal of fostering reading and writing for critical thinking to help improve teachers’ performance and ultimately enhance student learning outcomes. During the period under review, CT-L carried out several workshops and activities with three tertiary institutions and five media entities (radio stations) in four counties of Liberia: Montserrado, Margibi, Grand Bassa and Nimba.

 

The four tertiary institutions are:

  1. Bomi Community College  (Tubmanburg, Bomi County);

  2. David A. Straz Technical & Vocational College, University of Liberia (Sinje, Grand Cape Mount County);; and

  3. William V.S. Tubman Teachers College, University of Liberia (Fendall, Monterrado County).

 

The five media entities (including four community radio stations) are:

  1. ECOWAS Radio (91.5 FM), Monrovia;

  2. Radio Gbehzon (107.3 FM), Buchanan, Grand Bassa County;

  3. Radio Kakata (101.7 FM), Kakata, Margibi County;  and

  4. Radio Nimba (99.5 FM), Sanniquellie, Nimba County;

  5. and Pumah FM 106.3, Tubmanburg, Bomi County.

Reading and Writing for Critical Thinking (RWCT), or Critical Thinking (CT), is a professional development program for teachers and teacher educators. Its purpose is to promote critical thinking and interactive methods of teaching [research-based best instructional practices] that improve students’ outcome and prepare them for constructive citizenship in open societies, based on the idea: that democratic practices in schools play an important role in the transition toward more open societies.

The RWCT training is designed to be accessible to teachers and teacher educators at every grade level, from primary, secondary and tertiary in consonance with the existing curricula. The RWCT curriculum focuses on the process and application of critical thinking strategies in the content areas. Teachers learn strategies to improve their student’s performance and support their own ability to conduct self-reflective problem solving and active engagement in the educational process. They learn to incorporate these strategies into their instructional practices applying RWCT research-based instructional methods and models, to help students think reflectively, take ownership of their personal learning, understand the logical flow of arguments, listen attentively, debate confidently and become independent, life-long learners. RWCT methods and strategies are adapted for classrooms in order to promote active inquiry, student-initiated learning, problem-solving, critical thinking, cooperative learning, and authentic assessment.

The ultimate goal of the WE-CARE Critical Thinking Liberia (CT-L) program, is to help develop an educational system that will produce citizens that will be able to contribute constructively to their wellbeing and to their country.

WEEKLY BROADCAST OF CT-L RADIO PROGRAM ‘BEYOND THE CLASSROOM’’

WE-CARE, in partnership with ECOWAS Radio (91.5 FM), continued its weekly broadcast of Beyond the Classroom, a 30-minute radio program that discusses and informs the public  about issues in education and education-related activities in Liberia. The program is aired every Thursday at 11:05 am with guests drawn from diverse areas of the Liberian education sector. ECOWAS Radio (formerly UNMIL Radio) has a larger coverage as it broadcasts to the West African community.

 

By extension and in order to reach local communities, WE-CARE Foundation (on April 13, 2019) formally entered into an agreement (contract) with four community radio stations in four different counties to broadcast ‘the pre-recorded version of Beyond the Classroom.  The 30-minute program was aired on the four community radios every Saturday evening (airtime varies, see list below), and the broadcast ran for six months, from April 13 to October 13, 2019. The four community radio stations, their location, airtime schedule and cost of airtime for the program are as follow:

 

Radio Station

Location

Airtime

Pumah FM (106.3)

Tubmanburg, Bomi Co.

Saturday,  6:00-6:30 pm

Radio Kakata (101.7 FM)

Kakata, Margibi Co.

Saturday,  6:30-7:00 pm

Radio Gbehzon (107.3 FM)

Buchanan, Grand Bassa Co.

Saturday,  6:30-7:00 pm

Radio Nimba (99.5 FM)

Sanniquellie, Nimba Co.

Saturday,  8:00-8:30 pm

 

The broadcast (airing of the program) went as scheduled with the community radio stations. Two sets (first batch 12, second batch 20) of pre-recorded versions of ‘Beyond the Classroom’ were sent to the stations electronically (email, WhatsApp) and on CDs (picked up by the station manager or program director).  A total of 32 program recordings were compiled, send to the stations, and subsequently broadcast or aired every Saturday evening in Tubmanburg, Sanniquellie, Kakata and Buchanan respectively by the four community radio stations for the duration of six month.

 

To followed up on the program broadcast, CT-L supervisor made calls to some residents of  Tubmanburg, Kakata, Sanniquellie and Buchanan—mostly stakeholders of WE-CARE programs—whether they listened to or heard the program broadcast on Saturday evenings in their communities/cities. Most of the people responded yes, and those who did not hear or listen to ‘Beyond the Classroom’ promised to listen to it. Calls were also regularly made to the station managers and program persons. This was a weekly and monthly routine until the contracted broadcast period came to an end, to ensure that the program was regularly aired and listened to.

 

The feedback from some members of the public was encouraging. WE-CARE staffs and contractors often received calls and/or are approached by some friends, relatives or colleagues that they heard or listen to Beyond the Classroom radio broadcast, even from listeners in neighbouring  Guinea and Sierra Leone.

 

The contract/agreement with the four community radio stations expired on October 13, 2019.