Posted on May 16, 2016
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When the School Improvement Project (SIP) was introduced first as a summer program and then a full-fledged project, many dismissed its potential to deliver low-cost, high impact results in tackling some of the fundamental challenges in Liberian high schools. But now with the student led library project at Christian Mission Fellowship Institute (CMFI), it is clear that when provided with the tools, support and mentoring, students are able to create lasting change within their schools. This is the story behind our School Improvement Project—empowering students to lead and inspire change in their schools.
The change makers of CMFI launched a Library project that is near completion—they are determined to complete it despite facing multiple challenges. After attending SMART Liberia’s Change Makers Summit, these students realized that they had an equal responsibility as their school’s administration in improving the quality of education at CMFI. “I’m doing this because I’m a change leader and it is my responsibility to make my school better”, student Alieu Boukarie told us as he shined his fellow students’ shoes before class to raise funds for the library project.
Boukarie has been a part of many other fundraising activities since his team embarked on their quest to build a new library. When the money stopped flowing from one method, they devise another way to get funds to make sure their friends could read and do homework in a quiet space.
Having gone through our entrepreneurship training program, the students of CMFI are now applying some of the core concepts in fundraising to support this project.
Despite many challenges Boukarie and his team have rallied the support of their administration and fellow students in leading a library project. “At first, it was difficult to convince our fellow students and administration to support us lead this project. They thought it was a ‘mission impossible’ for us as students. But with SMART Liberia’s support, constant feedback encouragement, we kept pressing and did things that amazed our students and the entire administration. This was how we earned their support”, Student Loiuse Ojong who is also the president of the student council government of CMFI explained.
The School Improvement Project— our flagship project— harnesses the entrepreneurial potential of high school students. The SIP prepares them to creatively tackle problems in their schools and provide support that will allow their schools to improve every year.
With a strong support system from our team of volunteers, mentors, and partners, our change makers are equipped with the skills to tackle some of the basic problems hindering their access to quality education. “Having a library is important to me. It enables me to do my assignments and satisfy my thirst for quality education, therefore I’m working with my team to create one in our school” student Samuel Jebbo Jr. replied when asked about why he joined the team in its early days.
Our change makers believe in action! They know that merely bemoaning the ‘messy’ nature of our education system is not going to bring reforms or change. They understand that it is only by getting involved, they have a chance of helping in the reform process while acquiring skills they need to succeed in life and make a difference in their communities.
SMART Liberia, with support from the British Embassy and International Bank (Liberia) Limited works with students, teachers, administrations, and parents to create learning spaces that nurture values and harness the potential of every student.