The primary education sector in Liberia is being outsourced to a private company, Bridge International Academies. As a result teachers and students have not only been on strike, but have blocked major highways including that to the international airport in the capital Monrovia. This infuriated President Sirleaf on her way back from a United Nations meeting, complaining that it had 'embarrassed' her government.
What is perhaps more embarrassing is that a sovereign government should be swelling the profits of a foreign corporation, instead of investing in public education. BIA is an outfit, heavily invested in by US Facebook billionnaire Mark Zuckerberg and mega UK education corporation Pearson, which sets up corrugated iron sheds in low income countries like Kenya and Ghana and employs untrained school leavers to deliver a scripted curriculum from tablets.
As a leader of the National Teachers Assoiciation of Liberia pointed out when the plan was first mooted, most schools have no internet connections and only 3% of Liberian people have access to electricity. Meanwhile schools are without textbooks or laboratories and yet it is the teachers who are blamed for poor achievement in the country's schools.
So embarrassed is Sirleaf that she is now threatening teachers who have encouraged the protests with the sack. The Liberian campaign drew great strength from the international solidarity shown by education unions around the world for their struggle. This international solidarity must continue.