Liberian Learning Center

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Liberian Learning Center

Hamilton, CanadaPaynesville , Liberia
Year Founded:
2010
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Idea
Budget: 
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The development of the first Public Library system in Liberia will be on a tract of land already identified, donated and assessed. It will equip, inaugurate and, for three years, train and empower local leaders with educational resources relevant to community development goals and cultural values.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

CHILDREN IN LIBERIA HAD ACCESS TO BOOKS AND EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Liberia has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, there has not been a public library in the country since war erupted in 1989. In a nation where 70% of schools were damaged or destroyed by conflict, the educational infrastructure situation is grim. Only 22% of public and community schools have seats. A mere 30% of public schools have functioning latrines or toilets. On average, there is only one outdated textbook for every 27 students.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Center will be both a location and a toolkit. The project will involve the construction of a new community learning center and a public library in Paynesville, a city with more than one million people in its metropolitan area. The Center will provide a safe space and incubate local community initiatives, empowering leaders to provide necessary programs and services to their people. It will also serve as a space where simple technologies can be deployed to create a living cultural archive of oral history relevant to the Liberian context. Located on a tract of land already donated and assessed, the project will equip, inaugurate and, for three years, train locals where necessary to ensure sustainability.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Liberian youth on refugee camps conceived the vision for this solution in Liberia, inspiring a globally-ranked university (McMaster) to work with them on a program to record and catalog cultural artifacts and history from the perspective of Liberians. Architects from Canada are working with locals to design a sustainable building and the government is providing a priority location for construction. In the Liberian Learning Center project, this is exactly how partners involved have come together collaboratively. With that kind of assignment comes empowerment and confidence in the quality of each element. The ability to deliver on holistic priorities and sustain impact on communities is real. This model will be first in Liberia.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The initiative have brought together multiple partners from Canada and Liberia including the office of the president involved in the planning and implementation process. A local steering committee in Liberia comprising of youth leaders, community elders, educators and local community organizations are working closely with the City of Paynesville where the project will be located, they are key in the planning and implementation of the entire project. Through their efforts on the ground, we have acquired a crucial parcel of land with all necessary documents for the construction through a donation. The Facility Concept design has also been carefully develop with direct input from them at no cost. We have created a full business plan that is constantly being reviewed and revised according to developments in Liberia as well. All of these achievements have been made without a cost.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The center will be self-sustaining after 3 years with a number of revenue streams anchored by two programs and base government funding. First, there are so few undamaged event venues in Liberia that rental space is expensive. Much needed gathering spaces for the community, but also for paying customers will be key. Second, this will be a hub offering both training and state of the art desktop publish services which is non existent in Liberia.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

From all research and information gathered in Liberia, our initiative is unique. Several organizations including "Books to Liberia" and the "Liberian Development Foundation" have sought to address part of the problem by shipping books and educational supplies to Liberia but unable to account for such in the long term. We discovered the lack of infrastructure in Liberia is a significant challenge. Our approach addresses this issue and sustainability through social enterprise. We have relied on the creativity of Liberians and provided the support they need to develop a model that is sustainable.
Team

Founding Story

As a young refugee boy living on the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana, little did I know that reading a book given to me by a friend of mine was to become the greatest motivation of my life. The book was about Samuel Kaboo Morris, a native from Liberia brought to the United States by Missionaries in the 1800s. He managed to self educate himself and enrolled at Taylor University where he was instrumental in saving the University from bankruptcy. His dream was to take education back to his people in Liberia, a dream that was not realized when he die of cold in the United States. It is my quest to finally bring that dream to reality that has brought me on this journey and the timing couldn't have been suitable than now when it's needed most.