At a grade-4 classroom visit to Slipway Primary School in rural Monrovia, the Prime Minister sees first-hand CODE’s quality literacy work in action.
“Everyone has their tools.… a painter has brushes; a cook has pots. Students have their tools too - they need pens, books, notes and… one more thing they need to help them learn — FUN!” -Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada to the Grade 4 students at Slipway Primary School in Monrovia, Liberia.
Global Affairs Canada (GAC) honoured CODE last week by selecting it as one of only two Canadian NGOs to be featured in the Liberian portion of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first official visit to Africa since taking office. The purpose of the trip was to strengthen relations with Canada’s African partners and advance issues such as the empowerment of women and girls — and the encouragement of men to support them. Mr. Trudeau opted for Liberia in part because of the leadership of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize and the first female elected head of state in Africa.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her role in securing peace in her country.
Micheal Weah and Yvonne Capeheart of the WE-CARE Foundation, CODE’s country partner in Liberia greet Prime Minister Trudeau as he makes his way to the grade 4 classroom to help with a lesson.
Mr. Trudeau then visited Slipway Primary school in Monrovia where CODE and its Liberian partner, The WE-CARE Foundation, work to support professional development in the teaching of reading and writing as part of its Reading Liberia 20-20 program. To the delight of a classroom of excited Grade 4 students, Mr. Trudeau joined WE-CARE’s Yvonne Capeheart in leading the lesson-poem “School is Fun” from the Reading Liberia book, 'The Singing of the Rice Bird'. A former teacher himself, Mr. Trudeau zeroed in on the important message of the poem which was all about how children need tools to learn… books, pencils, paper and fun!
The PM, a former teacher himself - performed his task with gusto and was received with great excitement by students and staff alike.
The visit ended with a young girl presenting Mr. Trudeau with six Reading Liberia books. The Prime Minister was delighted with the gift and declared how pleased he was that he would be able to share these books with his own children. He emphasized the importance of making sure girls and boys stay in school and said how happy he was to learn that they (the Liberian kids in the classroom and in every other school) were able to read these great books that reflected their own lives and environment.
Young student presents Justin Trudeau with some Reading Liberia books to give to his kids. You can give the Gift of Books this holiday season too.
CODE prides itself on building local capacity in the production of high-quality, culturally relevant books and learning materials as one way in which access to quality education can be realized and sustained. CODE is particularly committed to supporting the development of books that portray girls and women in positive, empowering roles and has won the UNESCO International Literacy award for its gender-related literacy work.
“Witnessing Mr. Trudeau read to and engage with the Slipway children was a very clear indication of just how seriously he takes education and the power of good books and skilled teachers to change lives. We are honoured that he chose CODE to visit on this trip.” –CODE Executive Director, Scott Walter
Slipway students gather outside with Yvonne Capeheart and Michael Weah of the WE-CARE Foundation, and CODE's Executive Director, Scott Walter.
Trudeau has backed up his commitment to strengthening relations with Africa and advancing issues such as gender equality, security and education with some funding announcements. They include: $10 million over five years, beginning this year, to support the activities of U.N. Women in West Africa; $1.5 million this year to a U.N.- backed financing-acceleration instrument meant to enhance the engagement of women in peace and security; and another $1 million to support the U.N. Development Program for the 2017 Liberian election, including encouraging the participation of more women in politics.
Further, while attending the XVI Summit of La Francophonie in Madagascar, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the Government of Canada will provide $112.8 million for international aid projects that will benefit several African countries and Haiti. This funding will contribute to projects that aim to fight climate change, empower women, and protect their rights.