The Literacy Department is the arm of LIBTRALO that coordinates all literacy activities of the organization with the approval of the Executive Director, working through various language associations and experts. LIBTRALO’s literacy program has both formal and non-formal components. The formal component deals with children in formal government primary schools, momentarily at the kindergarten level. They are being taken through multilingual education. The non-formal component of the literacy program deals with busy adults, most especially rural farmers and traders. This category of learners learns at their own convenient time with no restrictions on the location and kind of learning centers. These people are taught in their indigenous languages.
Some of the activities of the department include teacher training, training of trainers, materials production, monitoring and supervision of literacy classes and implementation of literacy projects for other partners.
We train teachers for the adult literacy component of our literacy program. In actuality, our literacy program was initially adult skewed. As such, literacy classes were conducted in churches, community/town halls or public school campuses where adults met to learn to read and write in their indigenous languages. The teachers that manned these classes came from local communities and churches. Those communities and churches committed to LIBTRALO Literacy Department individuals of trust to be trained. After a week or two of training, these trained teachers returned to their principals for assignment.
However, LIBTRALO having been selected by Ministry of Education to implement a pilot Liberian Languages and English Multilingual Education (LLEME) project, the Literacy Department could not handle all of the technical details alone. Hence, through the cooperation of Mrs Alvina Federwitz (Ma Wata) of Lutheran Bible Translators, Dr. Dennis Malone and Dr. Susan Malone of the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) were brought in to help this national cause. Ma Wata is support facilitator to the Malones. And, since the teachers involved in the LLEME pilot project are already on Government payroll and teaching in English, they are brought together in one place and taken through child-centered learning methodology and effective use of learning materials. Staff across departments also perform varying support roles during the LLEME teacher training workshops.
Training of Trainers (TOT)
Some of the trained teachers and their leaders began at a certain point to petition LIBTRALO for an expansion of the literacy activities to other communities in Monrovia and into the hub counties of the various language groups we were dealing with. Equally, some smart students having realized the importance of learning to read and write in one’s language, also advocated to become teachers. A first language literacy explosion was in the making. Sensing the difficulty it would have posed for Literacy Department to have gone from one literacy center to another to conduct teacher training, it was strategized that all the teachers from various language groups be brought together to be trained as trainers. They then would be prepared to train the best students in their language classes and some volunteers as teachers in order to contain the multiple requests for teachers.
With the introduction of the Liberian Languages and English Multilingual Education (LLEME) program, TOTs have been planned on regional bases to cover the entire country. Dr. Dennis Malone and Dr. Susan Malone of Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) are the lead facilitators while Mrs. Alvina Federwitz (Ma Wata) of Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT) serves as support facilitator. At the end of these regional LLEME TOTs, LIBTRALO staffs will have been greatly capacitated to visit the various regions on-call to conduct LLEME teacher training around Liberia.
Many learning and teaching materials have been produced by the Literacy Department with the kind assistance of some experts. Those materials include pre-primers, primers, easy readers, listening stories, big pictures, Math Activity Book, Teacher’s Activity Guide, Weekly Lesson Plans, alphabet chats, word cards, picture cards, and number cards. Some of these materials can be used both by children and adults while others are used only by either group. We have produced learning materials also on a contract basis for UICEF.
Usually the materials development process is initiated through a writer’s workshop or a specially guarded materials development workshop. When the initial drafts are made they are turned over to the Desktop Publisher for keyboarding and formatting. After editing and proofreading are done, then the print shop takes over the materials for mass production using Risograph printers. With a huge volume of materials, collating, perforating and binding become an involved aspect. Subsequent to this stage is distribution of materials to the various language groups concerned. These materials are what guide the teaching-learning process either in adult literacy centers or in the select public primary schools that are pilot testing LLEME. How well
Monitoring and Supervision
Monitoring and supervision of literacy classes around Liberia has been a collaboration between the Literacy and Translation Departments as a means of curtailing costs. Upon arrival in target communities each of these departments goes its separate way to monitor and supervise activities within its administrative purview. However, given more time to address important concerns of community dwellers about our work, there can sometimes be joint meetings where each department summarizes its work to people of the various language communities where we work. These monitoring and supervision trips usually begin in Southeast Liberia where road conditions usually becomes worst during the rainy season. We do these onsite visitations to keep abreast of the practical progress with ongoing adult literacy and LLEME classes around the country. This is especially good so that teachers who have problems handling some of the teaching materials can get some remedial assistant. Observing students’ progress is very major during these monitoring and supervision trips as LLEME classes are purely student centered.
Implementing for Partners
LIBTRALO through the Literacy Department implements literacy projects for some of her partners. The Liberian Languages and English Multilingual Education (LLEME) pilot project is a project that LIBTRALO implements on behalf of Ministry of Education based on a memorandum of understanding signed between the two bodies in 2002. This project is ongoing in fourteen counties of Liberia and has a prospect to improve learning intelligent quotient (IQ) of children who begin study in their home language (L1) in order to bridge into the official language English (L2). The Literacy Department also implemented a nine-month Heads of Households Vulnerable Women’s Literacy Project for Concern Worldwide Liberia, in Lofa County among the Lorma and Kpelle people. During the instructional period learners expressed great excitement a new found life in mother tongue literacy. People who knew nothing about holding a pen or pencil to write could now read and write. Even a long term elementary school dropout confessed losing all writing skills until she entered this literacy program. Formal graduation exercises were held in August, 2012 in the towns of Salayea and Konia. Already, a four-year Concern multilingual literacy project for District #2 in Grand Bassa County has been approved by USAID. LIBTRALO through Literacy Department will implement this project as ground work is being made to start on schedule.