Desmond Diggs, part of the Teach for Liberia Initiative, weighs in on bringing the Teach for America model into a post-conflict developing context. Find out what tech and teachers are doing for the first African country to experiment with the TFA model.
0 – 10 Seconds: Tell our readers a bit more about what inspired you to get involved with Teach For All? What led you to your decision to become an educator?
I left Liberia over 20 years ago as a result of a civil war that lasted nearly 14 years. I’ve always known that I wanted to return and use whatever skills and talents I had to help in the rebuilding efforts, even though I was unsure of what that contribution looked like. I saw firsthand so many of the success stories that came out of Teach For America in the face of seemingly impossible odds, and Liberia posed a context that was just as challenging. More importantly, I came to understand how education was the foundation for any country’s revitalization, and that Liberia needed a program like Teach For America to dramatically alter the paths of kids.
10 – 20 Seconds: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced upon implementing the Teach For All model in the post-conflict developing context of Liberia?
Teach For All has implemented successful models in twenty-three countries in the last ten years, but a model has never been adapted in Africa to date. As I was repatriating and familiarizing myself with Liberia after twenty years, I also had to be sure to navigate the unique challenges of the African context.
Across the network the vision is the same in every country: “one day all children will have access to an excellent education.” However, in Liberia the majority of students struggle with challenges as basic as access and attendance. Moreover, because the country is post-conflict, nearly every basic social service is being built from the ground up. Figuring out the best way to start and how to navigate these deep challenges has caused lot of setbacks, but has also been a daily learning experience. (more…)