Helping Liberia in Science and Technology: The Role of LIMANY and I-HELP Liberia Project
By: Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei and Muhammad A. Kromah
The world is taking a trend of increasing integration towards the merging of cultures, peoples, communications and trades. This is conceptually refers to as globalization. A successful globalization depends on successful science and technology. Where does Liberia stand in the emerging global world? What is being done to produce more scientists and promote scientific inventions in the country? Unfortunately, little is being done in those directions, and experimental science to improve students’ understanding of basic scientific concepts, theories, and computer technology are visibly absent. The measuring and calculating of simple things like temperature, pressure, conductivity and force are only applicable on the blackboard through mathematical presentations.
Interestingly, hope is awakening as several Liberian philanthropists are mustering the courage to solicit support from around the world through small scale non-profitable initiatives to improve conditions in the country, particularly in the education sector. One of such remarkable philanthropist is a Liberian scientist based in the United States of America, Mr. Ansumana Randolph Jabateh. Mr. Jabateh is a Science teacher at the Hunter College High School in New York. Through his instrumentality two institutions have collaborated in spirits of passion and determination to help Liberian teachers improve their capacities of teaching science and technology in schools. The institutions are the ever-potent Liberian Mandingo Association of New York (LIMANY), an American based Liberian social, cultural and developmental organization; and the I-HELP LIBERIA PROJECT, a student-driven project based in New York aimed at helping Liberian students.
The two institutions are currently in Liberia conducting workshops for Science Teachers in five counties Montserrado, Margibi, Bong and Nimba. Two workshops were conducted in Montserrado, the first of which was held at the Cape Hotel for schools selected in Central Monrovia and the second was held at the Mahdei Memorial Institute for schools selected from Gardnersville and Paynesville. Delivering the keynote address at the opening of the workshop in central Monrovia, Mr. David L. V. Bauer, a 2009 Rhodes Scholar in America, encouraged participants to promote science and encourage more Liberians to build interest in science in order to produce more scientists for the country in the future. Also speaking was Mr. Ansumana Randolph Jabateh, head of delegation and chief facilitator of the workshops. According to Mr. Jabateh, the overall goal of the delegation and the workshops is “to allow the participants to develop a sense of teaching with new technology and to prepare more engaging science curriculums, thus aiding future generations of teachers, scientists, doctors, technologists and nurses”. Also on the delegation is Ms. Heidi Baumgartner, an eleventh grade student of the Hunter College High and a member of the I-Help Liberia Project. Ms. Baumgartner is providing technical support to the facilitation of the workshops by demonstrating several experiments using portable technologies.
The workshops in the four counties, according to Mr. Jabateh are actually designed to introduce one hundred Liberian Science teachers to new classroom technologies. The participants are being exposed to 21st century hands-on science activities, a data-collecting device called Vernier Technology.
Complementing the good-will of LIMANY and I-HELP Liberia Project is the donation of several technological equipments to schools including Labquests, sophisticated scientific calculators and laptops. Schools like the Elizabeth Blunt School System, the William V.S. Tubman High School got labquests and calculators, while the Wells-Hairston High School and the Mahdei Junior High School got laptops. In rural Liberia, Booker Washington Institute (BWI) was given a laptop, and the I-Help Liberia Project has pledged to donate additional laptops to the BWI by April of 2009.