Letter to Ben Phillips, ActionAid International

Ben Phillips
ActionAid International Postnet Suite 248
Private Bag X31, Saxonwold 2132 Johannesburg, South Africa

Dear Mr. Phillips,

On behalf of the 249 Teachers and Principals from Bridge Partnership Schools for Liberia, we are writing to you to express our sincere concerns regarding your tweets relating to your visit to Bridge Partnership Schools for Liberia on 15 September 2016. We are shocked that you would misquote our Principal and appalled that you would willingly misrepresent what one of our staff members said to you in good faith and in the belief that you were acting in the best interests of teachers and children.

You were welcomed into our school as a guest and you abused your position of authority to push your own agenda. In response to your claims:

  • Each Bridge PSL school is equipped with books for each subject for each class. Each child is additionally given a homework book to take home. All of these books were donated at no cost to the government and with enormous benefit to Liberian public schools.
  • All children that previously attended each Bridge PSL school were given the first opportunity to re-enroll at the school. There was such enormous demand from additional children from nearby communities (who were not at the Bridge PSL school last year) to attend a Bridge PSL school that some of these children could not be accommodated. This was done to protect learning and the quality of instruction that Bridge offers.
  • Teachers receive lessons a week before they teach them and have time built in every day to review the lessons for that day. There is flexibility with our scripted lessons which provides for experience sharing and encourages practical examples in real life. The Principal may not have known this as he attended a different training for teachers, specifically created for school leaders. School has just started. It is just a matter of time before all school staff are fully abreast of relevant school information.
  • All Bridge PSL teachers and administrators attended government teachers’ training institutes and additionally participated in an intensive three-week residential Bridge training program that taught them how to use Bridge technology, how to create student centered classrooms and behavioral management techniques.
  • Bridge is now distributing uniforms for free at no cost to students, teachers have learning tablets and all schools are being equipped with e-readers loaded with content to give children mobile libraries to improve literacy skills.

Our teachers and principals are proud of what they do and are encouraged to talk to any and all visitors about their work. The Principal you spoke to said you congratulated him for his work. He informed you that he was proud to be a part of the Partnership Schools for Liberia program because he was helping to create meaningful impact on children’s lives. Therefore, it is disappointing that an advocate for teachers, parents and children would treat a Liberian colleague in this way.

We invite you to visit any and all of our schools and invite you to meet with our leadership team, but ask that you do so in a transparent and honest manner.

Yours sincerely,

Marcus S. Wleh

Country Director – Liberia