By Bill W. Cooper
The Japanese government and the Development Education Network-Liberia (DEN-L) have collaborated to enhance educational infrastructure in the remote region of Lofa County.
The US$72,427 Japan grant will provide blocks for Konia Garbo Public Elementary School, situated in Zorzor District, Lofa County.
Items making up the project components include blocks for Elementary, four cubicle urine diversion toilet facility with rainwater harvesting system, project signboard, set of furniture, and external audit (interim and final).
Over 180 pupils of the elementary are expected to benefit from the project, which will provide a safe learning environment with ample classroom spaces, and a total of approximately 670 pupils and students will have a hygienic school environment at the facility.
The Konia Garbo Public School, established by the government in 1956, has an enrollment of 670 students from more than 12 surrounding communities, while the existing school block for lower elementary grades (accommodating 180 pupils) has four classrooms.
The existing latrines are also out of order or dangerous for pupils, thereby making them resort to open defecation, and it increases the risk of spreading infectious diseases and causes educational disparities in gender issue and periodic absence of adolescent female students.
During the signing ceremony, Japanese Ambassador to Liberia, Mochizuki Hisanobu, expressed excitement to be part of the ceremony, stating that the grant provided by his government for the completion of the project is under the Japan Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGHSP).
Amb. Hisanobu disclosed that the commencement of the project that will benefit 13 communities in addition to Konia, and as well bring opportunities to many young minds in the various communities, will start immediately.
According to him, one of the important aspects of the project is its potential to ease the problem of overcrowding and long travels for young students, indicating, “Imagine that these kids, some as young as five, have to trek at least two kilometers to a neighboring school.”
“It is our shared responsibility to ensure that these kids have access to quality education without experiencing undue hardship. Therefore, this project clearly shows Japan’s policy to address critical human security related issues that affect rural communities, and also our dedication to promoting Liberia’s development,” he said.
The Japanese Ambassador further narrated that another important reason for the provision of the funds is also consistent with Japan’s ODA philosophy, aiming at self-reliant development of recipient countries through assistance and cooperation.
He then commended the DEN-L for putting its proposal together with all stakeholders for their support for the project, calling on them to ensure the successful completion of the school.
Earlier, DEN-L Executive Director, Johnson Kesselly, described the signing of the grant as a privilege, as well as one of his institution’s official development assistance schemes under the bilateral agreement between the Liberian Government and Japan.
He maintained, “We consider DEN-L as fortunate, since this project is the second and I am again seizing the opportunity to extend sincere thanks and appreciation on behalf of the elders, parents, community leaders, and students’ population, for these fortunate communities to Japan for the financial support.