Science Lab Trainer and Co-Teacher
Currently, departure timelines are not available and the Peace Corps is not issuing invitations to serve. Once we begin issuing invitations, applicants will have a minimum of three to four months’ notice between invitation and departure.
The information provided for each assignment is subject to change.
This is an exciting and challenging time in the history of Liberia. The Peace Corps Education Project supports Liberia’s education sector during a time of reconstruction as the country aims to meet the nation’s educational challenges and help ensure every Liberian child is able to obtain a quality education.
Peace Corps/Liberia’s Education project places Volunteers as Science Lab Trainers and Co-Teachers in schools teaching students 7th through 12th grade and building capacity of teachers in conducting and teaching science labs. Recently, the Liberian government has adopted a national exam called West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) which has a science lab component. Volunteers assist teachers in preparing students for the exam. While most of the work will depend on the needs of the school and the Volunteer’s skillset; the main focus is to build students' labs skills, comprehension, and critical thinking skills through basic science concepts, including:
A majority of the schools with science labs are located in larger towns/cities with a population of around 30,000. Peace Corps Volunteers will be responsible for teaching different grade levels, in classrooms that typically have between 50-90 students in each class with very limited teaching resources. Ninety-five percent (95%) of Liberian students in public schools are considered ‘over-age’ for their respective grade level. Students in junior high and high school will range in age from their teens to their mid-20’s.
In addition to co-teaching science labs and training teachers in science labs, Volunteers may engage with their schools in a variety of additional ways, including clustered teacher trainings, school improvement activities, gender-based violence education, after-school programs, or math/science experiential learning activities.
In addition to primary sector work, Volunteers have the opportunity to engage in cross-sector programming priorities through a variety of supplemental projects. Peace Corps Liberia’s cross-sector programming priorities are gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment, and malaria awareness and prevention. As such, all Volunteers will receive training on gender challenges in Liberia and will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During service, Volunteers will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. Additionally, all Volunteers will receive training on malaria prevention initiatives in Liberia and best-practices for promoting malaria prevention in their community. All Volunteers are strongly encouraged to participate in any organized anti-malaria campaigns that may occur within their regions of service.
Because a Volunteer’s work is complex and sometimes stressful, many Volunteers find constructive outlet through engaging in supplementary projects. While Volunteers are free to explore their personal interests, such as music, art, and sports through community engagement, Peace Corps Liberia works to provide basic guidance to Volunteers interested in school-based agricultural education, school-based nutrition and WaSH education, and youth development programs.
While Volunteers will spend much of their time on the activities described above, they will also be developing relationships with their community. They will be picking mangos with neighbors, learning to build a cook fire to make cassava gravy, and getting clothes made out of the traditional “lappa”. They will share stories with friends and make life long relationships with some of the most welcoming people in the world.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.
Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education with concentration in any science
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with secondary certification in science
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in General Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Engineering
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any physical science or any biological science or equivalent
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with a minor or equivalent (15 semester/22 quarter hours) in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics
Additionally, Liberia strongly prefers its Volunteers have one or more of the following qualifications:
• Sound knowledge of basic scientific concepts in biology, chemistry, and/or physics
• Took several lab courses as part of obtaining the degree
• Experience teaching hands-on science activities to elementary/middle/high school students (such as through a science outreach program, summer camp, or by working as a science teacher)
• Experience teaching science labs to students (such as by working as a TA in a lab course)
• Experience working in or managing a science lab (may include conducting research, working in the stockroom at a college, or working in a job that involves lab work)
• Ability to work in, and teach to, a multi-level classroom
• Experience working with youth in unstructured or semi-structured environments or in community and organizational development
• Prior teaching experience including lesson planning, basic classroom management, student evaluation, and public speaking
• Demonstrated ability in planning, organizing, counseling on leadership within the past 5 years
• Work experience in low or under-resourced classrooms or communities
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
There are 15 local languages spoken in Liberia with Liberian English spoken throughout the country. Standard English is the official language of instruction in schools; however, many teachers teach in Liberian English. Liberian English is very different in pronunciation and structure from Standard English and will require training to understand. In addition to training in Liberian English, Volunteers receive limited training in the local language relevant to their site.
Housing: Volunteers are expected to accept a variety of housing possibilities during their two years of service. Volunteer housing consists of both single and double dwelling homes, depending on the school's site and housing availability. Most homes consist of three to four rooms, including a bedroom, a common area, kitchen and an indoor bathroom that requires bucket flushing. Volunteers should not expect to have electricity or running water in their home, and they will get their water from a nearby hand pump or well.
Diet: The staple food is rice. It is the base for most meals and is typically served with a sauce or “soup” made from a variety of locally-grown vegetables and prepared with meat, fish or chicken when available. Cassava or “fufu” is another main staple and can be found dried, fermented, or fresh depending on the dish. Because of Liberia’s wide-spread food insecurity, access to higher nutrition foods can be limited and many Volunteers find the ratio of carbohydrates to be high. Spice and hot peppers are also common in Liberian cuisine and many dishes put even the most spice tolerant palates to the test.
Transportation: During your Peace Corps service, you will travel via public transportation, often in the form of tightly packed taxis. However, due to Covid-19, Volunteers will be transported by Peace Corps vehicles and specially arranged trusted taxis. The primary methods of Covid-19 mitigation in any form of transportation begins with the basic 3Ws. Whether in a Peace Corps vehicle, or a private taxi or car, practicing the 3Ws reduces the risk of Covid-19 transmission:
1. Wash your hands
2. Wear a mask
3. Watch your distance
During normal times most health Volunteers should expect to ride a motorbike to reach the bank or a larger market town. All Volunteers are trained to ride motorbikes and issued a helmet. Health Volunteers will occasionally ride to communities to do site visits. Many roads and vehicles are in extremely poor condition, especially during the rainy season. You will be trained in transportation safety, however, transportation will always be a very large challenge during your service. While traveling between locations, you should be prepared for old and crowded vehicles and long hours on the road.
Health: The health, safety and security of Volunteers are Peace Corps' top priority. Throughout the 11 weeks of pre-service training Volunteers will receive training on ways to maintain physical and mental health while in Liberia.
Communication: All calls in Liberia are made via cellphone and most communication with staff and locals will be done through text messaging apps. All Volunteers are required to have a smart phone and are strongly encouraged to bring an unlocked phone with them. Volunteers will be able to purchase a phone upon arrival in Liberia, but smart phones tend to be poorer quality and more expensive compared to what is available for purchase in the US. While a few Volunteers may not have service in their houses there will be places in the community to get service, which applies to both phone coverage and internet.
LGBTQ Volunteers: Liberia has some restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws, and use their best judgment to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host countries. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during pre-service training, and identify some potential support mechanisms for incoming trainees.
Serving in Liberia
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Liberia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Liberia is an excellent place for couples and they are warmly welcomed. Your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following positions in Liberia:
- Primary Literacy Teacher
- Primary Literacy Teacher Specialist
All couples will live together for the majority of Pre-Service Training. Please note, however, that there will be between eight to ten days of the training where couples will be in gender separated dorms with the rest of their training cohort. Once training has been completed, couples will live together for the duration of their service. Depending on site availability, couples might serve at the same school or different schools within the same community.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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