The student to teacher ratio at the Paynesville Community Junior High School (Monrovia) is over fifty to one.
The student to teacher ratio at the Paynesville Community Junior High School (Monrovia) is over fifty to one.

Liberia: Action plan to fight privatisation and strengthen education union

published 15 October 2020 updated 6 November 2020

The National Teachers' Association of Liberia (NTAL) has set up an action plan to build on work done on fighting privatisation, as well as strengthening the education union.

The action plan was established in the framework of a consortium coordinated by Education Internaitonal and comprising Education International’s affiliates and development cooperation partners - the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, the Danish Union of Teachers, Utdanningsforbundet (Norway), and Lärarförbundet (Sweden).

Over a six month-period from July to December 2020, activities are focusing on three main areas:

  • Publication and printing of necessary materials informing NTAL members and the public about trade union programmes and activities at local, regional and national levels. These publications will also increase the NTAL membership.
  • Communication via ”NTAL Half-Hour” on radio. This activity consists in airing all NTAL programmes and activities on the radio twice a month, in all 15 counties. This will ensure that the NTAL will be more accountable and transparent to its members.
  • Advocacy against the privatisation of education.  NTAL will continue its advocacy campaign against the privatisation and commercialisation of public education in Liberia, alerting the public about the negative impact and threats posed by the latter. This will be done through, among others, demonstrating how the teaching profession is being undermined by for-profit private actors, meeting with relevant ministries and agencies, conducting press interviews, participating in radio talk shows, or doing awareness-raising visits in the counties.

NTAL:  Long path recovery

The Programme of the Education International’s consortium began in 2007 after a 14 year-long civil war in Liberia. Stability was introduced to the country with the setting up of a democratic government, according to Samuel Y. Johnson, NTAL General Secretary.

The civil war had a negative impact on union structures at all levels, and the union had become dormant, he said. Education International initiated the consortium in 1997 to reorganise NTAL’s structures. The Education International affiliates and development cooperation partners organised a series of programmes to revamp NTAL and position it as the sole teachers’ union in Liberia. With the assistance of the consortium, an election of union officials was held in 2009. Executive officers were successfully elected and a secretariat was subsequently formed.

Successful activities

Since its inception, the consortium has undertaken many activities, including:

  • Organisation of leadership training workshops and publication of training materials.
  • Facilitation of the printing of the union constitution, a membership handbook, and annual calendars.
  • Organisation of in-service teacher training programmes.
  • Support for advocacy against the commercialisation and privatisation of public education in Liberia.

These activities greatly helped NTAL to reshape and strengthen its 15 branches. Local branches opened bank accounts for their membership dues which then finance their operations. Today, NTAL is active in all of Liberia’s 103 educational districts, Johnson highlighted.

Partnership continues and plan changes due to COVID-19

“The capacity building training has put NTAL on the right trajectory,” he insisted. “We are grateful to Education International and its consortium partners who agreed at Education International’s World Congress in Bangkok, Thailand, to continue the partnership.”

A two-year strategic plan was prepared in February 2020, to be jointly sponsored by NTAL, Education International and the consortium partners, and covering the period 2020-2021. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this plan was reduced to six months - July-December 2020, said Johnson. The revised plan covers those activities that can be implemented observing public health protocols and without involving any gatherings in large groups.