Saturday, September 7, 2013

International Literacy Day

Sunday, September 8, 2013 is International Literacy Day!  The observance focuses on worldwide literacy needs and LOEP has a special Literacy celebration planned.

Thanks to individual donors, partner churches and organizations, LOEP is privileged to celebrate Literacy Day on Monday, September 9 by delivering 115 boxes of books for shipment to Liberia! The books are bound for our partner schools, Lott Carey Mission School (LCMS) and Hope for the Deaf School.  

The LOEP book shipment will provide Lott Carey Mission School (LCMS) with an elementary Reading Instruction program complete with student textbooks, supplementary instructional materials and teacher's editions. LOEP plans to follow up with a Reading Instruction workshop for LCMS teachers to assist them in making best use of the Reading program for their students.  

Thanks to a partnership with Middletown Methodist Church in Maryland, LOEP is also sending books to set up a Reading Room at Hope for the Deaf School.  LOEP friends are familiar with our partners at Hope for the Deaf and have supported the school's vocational program.  Last year LOEP partnered with Hope to help develop  the school-to-home program.  Hope administrator, David Worlobah, reports the program to build the relationship between student families and the school has been successful with excellent response from the families of students.   

Now Hope needs a Reading Room. The school has no library and very few books.  The new Reading Room will expose students to books, instructional games and activities and will also provide resource materials on deaf education for teachers and parents of Hope students.  

Lott Carey first grade teacher, Mrs. Goh, is selecting books from the LCMS library for her classroom library and Reading instruction.  Complete Reading Instruction programs are unavailable in Liberia and teachers select random books from limited school libraries for classroom instruction in reading.  Mrs. Goh is a LOEP teacher. 

Hope for the Deaf students with visiting LCMS/LOEP teacher, Mrs. Harvey, play spelling games with alphabet bean bags.  Instructional games and activities are generally unavailable and unfamiliar to Liberian teachers and students.  These students jumped right in with great excitement to practice their spelling skills and "play" with the instructional bean bags when LOEP visited last year. The new  Reading Room stocked with books and instructional materials will be an asset for building literacy skills for students at Hope for the Deaf School.

Help LOEP celebrate Literacy Day!  Just $35 sends a Book Box directly to a Liberian classroom. Click below and help a child learn to read!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Scrabble Kids

Liberian students are not accustomed to instructional materials in the classroom and games such as Scrabble are not common teaching tools.  This group is taught by a teacher who has attended all the LOEP training workshops and uses imaginative and creative methods in his classroom to teach students.  Liberian students are highly motivated by the competitive aspect of instructional games and Scrabble has been a very successful teaching tool for this group.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

How does LOEP make sure our work does not trample over cultural values of our colleagues in Liberia?
LOEP volunteers are a diverse group of highly experienced educators and trainers, successful professionals in the fields of communication, academia, the Arts, international development, former Peace Corps volunteers, Liberians and others of African parentage.   All LOEP training programs including workshops, training materials and instructional materials are carefully developed with an eye for sound educational concepts.  LOEP educators recognize that sound educational concepts are based on appropriate cultural frame of reference. 

LOEP looks to a broad range of international leaders in the field of education and training for source materials.  Educational resources as diverse as UNESCO, Edutopia.org, Reading Rockets, education journals, NAEYC, and many, many others  have provided source materials for LOEP workshops and materials.

How do we make sure we provide “culturally appropriate” materials and books for children to use in the classroom?

LOEP volunteers spend many hours sorting and selecting materials and books that promote general universal themes (friendship, animals, peace), covers a range of disciplines (language arts, math, science, social studies, the Arts), up to date atlases and maps, educational children’s science and literary magazines and educational games and puzzles.
Although games and puzzles are not used much in Liberian classrooms, LOEP has had some success introducing teachers to use of Scrabble and other games with students.  One of LOEP’s teachers has organized Scrabble tournaments within his school and the activity has become enormously popular.  The tournaments are lively and have a high rate of participation.
How do we determine what is “culturally appropriate” for Liberian classrooms?
LOEP volunteers look for materials that have a multicultural viewpoint.  This means materials that include children of all ethnic groups, stories of children and daily life in other countries, customs and practices outside of Liberia.   Another way of providing multicultural viewpoint is, for example, the language arts and social studies materials that incorporate elements of and appreciation for the strong African tradition of oral story-telling.  These are most useful for Liberian classrooms. 
Study of literature, art, music and science can transcend cultural boundaries and LOEP volunteers see examples of creative teachers using such materials in the classroom all the time.
One of LOEP’s Trainers of Teachers uses a well-worn copy of the Collected Works of Shakespeare in his high school classroom.  The Bard’s dramas have endured because they explore universal human themes common to us all, regardless of ethnicity.  Our LOEP colleague helps students select portions of Shakespeare's plays to re-enact in the classroom as part of the literature study.  They discuss how the drama’s theme (greed, jealousy, leadership, etc.), may have affected public life in Liberia and their own personal lives.  The drama form itself is perfectly suited to the wonderful African affinity for dramatic presentation and the students follow up discussion with a skit based on the play.  Both content and form are relevant for students, the creative teacher makes it exciting and they delight in the study of Shakespeare’s classics!   

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

“Culturally Appropriate” Books for Liberian Classrooms

There are no publishers of reading textbooks in Liberia.  In fact, there are few book publishers in West Africa where the culture is based on oral traditions rather than the written word.  Each year millions of books are sent to Africa from the U.S. and Europe where books are more abundant.  So many American books are sent to Liberia, that if an American child were to find herself in a school library in Liberia (extremely rare), she would be surrounded by books very familiar from her own experience in an American school.

One young member of a LOEP training team was looking over the books in a Liberian school book storage room during a workshop break.  There were about 200 books – old, pre-1985 textbooks, mostly single copies, random subjects.  She noticed lots of American history books, some old Reading textbooks, and Science textbooks.  All were still in regular use at the school.  It shocked her to see the third grade Math textbook and fourth grade Social Studies textbook that she used in her own grade school days in the early 1980s.  Such familiar items of her own personal history here in Liberia!

As educators, those of us involved with LOEP believe education is key to our work in Liberia promoting strong professional competencies for teachers, student social responsibility and peaceful coexistence.  As teachers we know how important it is for children to learn within the context of their own culture.  Education and culture are so very closely interconnected that the two cannot really be separated.  The prevalence of and reliance on American textbooks in Liberia poses a challenge for LOEP volunteers as we design teacher training workshops and provide instructional materials for Liberian classrooms.  We know that kids learn best within the context of their own culture – learning does not happen in a vacuum.  We know teachers need to teach within that context and materials need to be relevant. 

The next couple of blog posts will explain how LOEP selects books and instructional materials to send to our partners in LIberia.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

What is a Book Box Campaign?

Why do we call it the "$35 Book Box Campaign"?

Moving  companies use a particular sized box for packing heavier loads such as textbooks.  Charges for shipping our boxes to Liberia are based on how much space the box takes up in the shipping container rather than how much it weighs.  The "Book Box" measures about 1.5 cubic feet and our shipper charges $35 per Book Box.

LOEP is packing up a complete Reading program in Book Boxes bound for Liberia. Learn how you can send a $35 Book Box to a Liberian Classroom!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Send Books!

In 2008, a World Bank-funded study confirmed serious deficiencies in reading among Liberian school children.   Among other shocking and disturbing statistics, the study showed:

·         34% of second grade Liberian school children could not identify or read ONE word.  

·         Second graders in Liberian schools could only read an average 19 correct words per minute

These facts are not surprising when you consider that most Liberian school children go all the way through school without books in the classroom.  Many Liberian children go as far as sixth grade without ever holding a book in their hands.  They learn from reading what the teacher writes on the blackboard.

Today's Liberian school children are the future of a re-building nation.  They need to learn to read! They need to lead responsibly!  They need to be educated!  They need to learn to read!  
You can make that happen.

Help LOEP send reading textbooks books to Liberian classrooms!  Join us on Causes and make a donation to send Reading Textbooks to Liberian classrooms.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Make Mother's Day Extra Special

Honor Mom with a gift donation to LOEP!  For a limited time LOEP is offering to send your Mom (or other significant female in your life) a tangible gift reminder of how much you honor her.  Make a gift donation in honor of your favorite lady(ies) and LOEP will send a Patchy Pouch to the honoree.  Patchy Pouches are beautiful, multi-use accessories, individually designed and made using African and commercially available fabrics.

All you have to do:

1.  Make a minimum donation of $10 through either Google Wallet or PayPal on the LOEP website.
2.  E-mail the mailing info. on who and where you wish to have the Patchy Pouch sent.  LOEP will ship a Patchy Pouch of our choice at no additional charge and include a note stating the item is sent as part of a gift donation from you to support orphan education in Liberia.
3.  Wait for the thank you call from Mom you are sure to get, saying how much she loves your thoughtful gift.
Can you think of a better way to honor Mom than by supporting education for orphans?

Donate soon - this is a limited fundraiser for Mother's Day giving.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Help send books to their classroom!

U.S. Classroom where modern teaching methods and books help children learn to read

Liberian classroom where LOEP teacher colleagues use modern teaching methods without books and students struggle to learn to read

How does a teacher without books teach students to read?  How can students become good readers without books?

Thanks to the donation of a complete K-5 reading program from a Virginia school, LOEP has the opportunity to put gently used reading text books in the hands of every elementary age student at Lott Carey Mission School. Teachers Editions and  supplemental reading instruction materials will help teachers guide their students to be readers. 
LOEP must raise $7,000 to ship the complete, intact K-5 Reading Program to Lott Carey Mission School where Liberian students in the classroom above can learn to read.   LOEP is launching a special fundraising campaign to send the books and raising the initial funds through our LOEP website.  Help us put books in Liberian classrooms!

LOEP has been working with Liberian teachers conducting workshops on modern teaching methods based on research and best practices.  Thanks to support from Friends of LOEP, we have supported those modern classroom techniques by regularly sending classroom instructional materials for our Liberian teacher colleagues to use in their classrooms.  It is great news that our program evaluations show effective teaching is taking place in our partner schools!

But teachers and students who have no books can only go so far. Donate today and help Liberian students become good readers!    

Friday, March 8, 2013

Some general observations on This Day:

65 per cent of participants from India and Rwanda totally or partially agreed with the statement ‘A
woman should tolerate violence in order to keep her family together’. A further 43 per cent agreed
with the statement: ‘There are times when a woman deserves to be beaten.’
‘Changing diapers, giving kids a bath and feeding kids are the mother’s responsibility.’ 67 per cent
of boys and 71 per cent of girls in Rwanda agreed, as did 83 per cent of boys and 87 per cent of
girls in India.
Our survey showed, however, that children are actually happier when they see their parents
sharing household responsibilities (eg when dads cook and do the laundry, both parents make
decisions and when their mums spend their time in and out of home).
Over 60 per cent of children interviewed in India for this report agreed that ‘if resources are scarce
it is better to educate a boy instead of a girl’

The above information is from a report by Plan International, an international organization focused on improving the lives of children all over the world. Because I am a Girl is an annual report which assesses the current state of the world's girls.   Their research is reliable and more reports and research is available on their website at http://www.planusa.org/ .

One event being held today in Liberia to mark International Women's Day today is The Association for the Advancement of LIberian Girls (AALG).  AALG will host a roundtable discussion with female students at Children's Village High School and professional women in the community as they explore careers usually closed to women in Liberia.  The AALG is a registered NGO in Liberia established as an advocate for Liberian females through education, philanthropy and social activities.

Pictured below is Mrs. Morris who is over ninety years old and taught school in her Liberian community for more than 65 years.  Here she is pictured with her young friends.  The aspiration behind International Women's Day is that these little girls and the little boys of their generation will grow up in a society that offers a better life of opportunity, respect and health for everyone - boys and girls, men and women.