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Primary Literacy Co-Teacher

Project description

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.

The Peace Corps Liberia Education Project places Primary Literacy Co-Teachers in primary schools teaching 1st to 3rd graders basic phonics, reading comprehension, and building critical thinking skills.

In their first year of service, Primary Literacy Co-Teachers co-teach with a Liberian teacher using the direct classroom instruction model. This is an opportunity for the Volunteer to build their confidence, build relationships with other teachers and increase credibility. In the second year of service, the Volunteer is expected to be more involved with teacher training, mentoring, coaching, and encouraging critical thinking skills for teachers. This will involve conducting cluster teacher training, observing teachers in the classroom, and giving feedback.

Most of the schools are located in rural communities, small towns, or large villages; however, some are located in county capitals that have populations above 30,000. Peace Corps Volunteers will be responsible for teaching different grade levels in classrooms that range between 30 to 90 students in each class with limited teaching resources. 95% of Liberian students in public schools are considered “over-age” for their respective grade level. Students in primary school will range in age from 5 to 15.

In addition to co-teaching Primary Literacy, the following are examples of other literacy activities Volunteers also implement in their schools and community:
• Developing and sustaining a teacher community of practice
• Teacher training
• School community improvement activities by working with their principal, teachers, students, and Parent Teacher Associations
• Literacy activities in school, afterschool, and with neighbors

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, 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 a 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 Water Sanitation and Hygiene (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 cookfire to make cassava gravy and getting clothes made of traditional lappa fabric by a tailor.

Required skills

• Competitive candidates will have a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline and a strong desire to teach English.

Desired skills

Additionally, Liberia prefers its Volunteers have one or more of the following qualifications:
• Experience in early childhood development, elementary education, or youth development. This includes elementary education/literacy, life skills education, parent education/support, social work, library studies and/or creative arts.
• Experience in classroom and behavioral management.
• Experience working with students, teaching a second language, or ESL tutoring.
• Experience working with children between the ages of 6-12 years old.

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 in their community.

Living conditions

Housing: Volunteers can expect 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. During Pre-Service Training (PST), Trainees will stay with a host family and commute to the training center for sessions. They will have their own bedroom within the host family’s house.

Diet: The staple food in Liberia 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 fufu is another main staple and can be found dried, fermented, or fresh depending on the dish. Because of Liberia’s widespread food insecurity, access to higher nutrition foods tend to be limited and many Volunteers find the amount of carbohydrates to be much higher than they are used to. Spices and hot peppers are also common in Liberian cuisine and many dishes put even the most spice tolerant palates to the test.

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 will be provided with one upon arrival in Liberia. 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.

Transportation: Volunteers will travel via public transportation, often in the form of tightly packed taxis. Many roads and vehicles are in extremely poor condition, especially during the rainy season. All Volunteers are trained in transportation safety; however, transportation will always be a very large challenge during service. While traveling between locations, Volunteers should be prepared for old and crowded vehicles and long hours on the road.

Health & Safety: The health, safety, and security of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) are the Peace Corps' top priorities. During the eleven-week PST, PCVs are trained on awareness and prevention activities such as handwashing, food safety, and other hygienic practices in the Liberia context. Volunteers are also given information on Emergency Action Plans and ways to keep themselves safe during service. We also provide extensive training and information on personal safety and security best practices and available resources throughout the Volunteer’s service. The Liberia team includes dedicated Medical Officers, a Safety and Security Manager, and other designated staff at Post and at Peace Corps’ headquarters, who are always available to support and respond to Volunteer health, safety, and security needs.

LGBTQI+ Volunteers: While Liberia is generally less conservative than neighboring countries, local laws and wide-spread cultural beliefs are opposed to same sex relationships and non-heteronormative presentations and behaviors. LGBTQI+ Volunteers are advised to not disclose their sexual orientation and/or gender identities during service. Despite this cultural context, LGBTQI+ Volunteers engage in safe, rewarding services. Peace Corps Liberia has designated Safe Zone staff who are trusted and trained to support LGBTQI+ Volunteers, and who can advise Volunteers on how to safely work and live in Liberia. As part of Peace Corps Liberia’s commitment to supporting LGBTQI+ Volunteers, all Trainees receive Safe Zone training as part of Pre-Service Training. As a general best practice, it is strongly recommended that Volunteers do not disclose LGBTQI+ identity to other Trainees, Volunteers, or staff prior to receiving Safe Zone Training.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Liberia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and health/crime statistics in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

Your partner must apply and qualify for the following position in Liberia:
• Junior High Math Teacher
• High School Science Teacher
• Health Extension Volunteer

Peace Corps Liberia welcomes applications from couples. Couples will live apart during Pre-Service Training. In their community, couples will share a home that meets the same standards for all Volunteers. There will be time during service when couples will spend days and nights apart, such as when one member of the couple is attending a meeting, routine medical appointments, etc.

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