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Liberia - education

Geography   People   Politics   Economy

Liberia was first founded by slaves who had been freed by America, after the War of Independence, in 1847 and is the oldest republic in Africa. Because of the background of those first founding inhabitants it is perhaps not surprising in the least that the educational system was based on the American one so it is unique on the African continent in that respect. Schools, both primary and secondary, were set up to serve the needs of the children of the new settlers during the 19th Century but funds were limited and little could be spared for the education of the indigenous population in the country's interior. A strong Christian faith amongst the newcomers meant that churches were established with a firm foundation and these developed their own schools too, eventually.

After the harsh treatment that the Liberians had experienced at the hands of the slave owners - a terrible title - it is hardly surprising that they were eager for their descendants to have a better start in life than they had had themselves and so educational standards were raised to ensure that those passing through the system were trained for white-collar work rather than manual labour so a new middle-class generation emerged, ready to work in the professions such as law, science, theology etc as well as more routine office careers.

Just before the First World War a cabinet minister was appointed to oversee a more centralised system of education but until the end of the Second World War around three quarters of Liberia's schools were still privately run or church controlled apart from a few colleges and secondary schools and the majority of the indigenous population was still waiting to receive the benefits of a sound education. However, economic growth after the war created greater disposable wealth enabled an extension of schooling to some of these people, but to this day there are still only a fraction of them who benefit fully from it.

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