Africa-Press – Liberia. Gbarnga, Bong County – It was moments of joy and excitement for the students and administration of the J. F. Clarke Elementary School in Gbarnga, Bong County when the Kids’ Education Engagement Project (KEEP) turned over a modern reading room stacked with books to the school.
The project, which is KEEP’s 23rd reading room was supported by the Gbowee Peace Foundation headed by Nobel Laureate, Madam Layma Gbowee. At the dedicatory Ceremony on Monday, the Superintendent of Bong County, Esther Walker lauded KEEP for selecting the school, and called on the administration and PTA Board to manage the reading room properly for the benefit of the students.
Madam Walker thanked the Gbowee Peace Foundation for the support and acknowledged that she was proud of Madam Gbowee, who hailed from Bong County, for her personal achievements and for the numerous help she continues to render to children of the county and country at large.
“The essence of life is to mentor and mold the minds of the young people to fill the gap of the older ones when they fade away,” she said. That’s why I am so grateful to Brenda for the good work she and her group are doing for our children. And we say thank you to Madam Gbowee for your support.”
The reading room was formally dedicated by Madam Gbowee who was joined by the school’s authorities and KEEP’s Executive Director, Mrs. Brenda Brewer Moore.
In a brief remark, the Nobel Laureate said she was honored to partner with KEEP for the successful implementation of the invaluable project. The support to KEEP, she noted, is in fulfillment of the promised she made to the organization in 2019. She then pledged her continued commitment to partnering with the organization.
“I find it as a real honor to partner with KEEP. I see this partnership as a favor KEEP is doing for the Gbowee Peace Foundation, and by extension to the Republic of Liberia. The foundation is always willing to work with people that get good track record and you have proven to have track record; and I don’t regret to share with you a thousand times over,” she pledged.
She also called on the school’s administration and the PTA to take ownership of the facility, and collectively manage it properly to ensure that the students make maximum use of it. At the same, she urged parents and the teachers to encourage the students to strive for excellence, and do away with mediocrity, which she said has taken over the country.
“To the parents, the PTA Chair and the Principal, it is my hope that you people can maximize this thing, encourage the young children to read and to strive for excellence. There are so many opportunities for students, especially for girls, scholarships abound.”
Madam Gbowee, displaying her newly published children’s book- ‘Ma’s Bed’, called on the students to make use of the opportunity and develop the love for reading.
“It is easier to advocate for students with ‘A’ then ‘B’. So, students, make use of this opportunity. Reading is the way to your future; reading is the way to learning things for yourself and it is the way to be great.”
Also speaking, KEEP’s Executive Director, Brenda Brewer Moore, put the cost of refurbishing the hall used for the reading room at US$7,705.00; adding that 1,670 books worth over US$20,000 was supplied.
Mrs. Moore thanked the Gbowee Peace Foundation for the immense support over the years; something she said has dispelled the notion that women do not support their compatriots (women).
She mentioned that the construction of the reading room was phase one of the organization’s activities at the school, and the second and third phases, which include the computer literacy program and the establishment of academic and social clubs, will only be implemented if the school takes proper care of the library and makes it functional.
The KEEP’s boss, speaking further, noted that the dedication of the reading room to the students in Gbarnga, to her, was a way of giving back to the community where she felt in love with reading. She recounted that during the first Liberian civil war, her parents took her and siblings to Gbarnga; and while there, she found solace in reading lots of books since there was no school and they had to stay home all day.
She encouraged the students to make reading their habit in order to perform well in their studies, and to improve their writing and speaking skills. “There is wealth in this room; not money, but these books,” she said. “The love for reading took me everywhere – China, Japan and Ethiopia by just sitting in a room because I learned about other countries and other cultures. So, I want you, the kids to understand. Come in here and take your time and read. Don’t tear the books, don’t go lit fire or don’t wrap kala with it.”
Meanwhile, the District Education Officer, Josiah M. Massaquoi, along with the Principal of the J. F. Clarke School, Madam Esther N. Willie thanked KEEP and its partner for the project, and promised to maintain the facilities to provide the maximum benefits to the school and students.