Last week, Professor Charlie Temple of the Education Department was in Monrovia, Liberia, conducting two parallel workshops on “Reading Liberia,” a literacy project for teachers and writers. Schools in Liberia reopened this fall for more than a million students after the long-term disruptions caused by the 14-year civil war.
Reading Liberia, with funding from CODE-Canada and a $500,000 gift from an anonymous Canadian donor, has been working with authors and potential publishers from Liberia in an effort to generate books for young people that are reflective of contemporary life in that country. Reading Liberia has paired Liberian authors and illustrators with editors and book designers in Canada who are working pro bono to publish about eight titles per year, printing 6,000 copies.
The other track of the workshops is preparing teachers to help children learn to read with these books, and have discussions inspired by them. To that end, Temple and his associates have developed a training program supported by guidebooks and quality standards in a limited cascade system.
“So far, the program is working in a dozen pilot schools around Monrovia,” says Temple. “In time, it is hoped the program will be adopted nationwide.”