Literacy Daily

Latest Posts
  • Digital Literacy
  • Policy & Advocacy
  • Achievement Gap
  • Literacy Leadership
  • Literacies
  • Teacher Preparation
  • Teacher Empowerment
  • Mentorship
  • Leadership
  • Professional Development
  • Opportunity Gap
  • Literacy Advocacy
  • Illiteracy
  • Funding
  • Education Legislation
  • Topics
  • News & Events

Celebrating International Literacy Day in Liberia With 30 Under 30 Honoree Ben Freeman

By Alina O'Donnell
 | Sep 08, 2017

LIPACESeptember 8 was proclaimed International Literacy Day (ILD) by UNESCO in 1965 to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities, and societies. This year’s theme of “Literacy in a Digital World highlights the challenges and opportunities in promoting literacy in the digital age.

In Liberia, students are more likely to own a mobile phone than a textbook, according to Benjamin Freeman, 2015 ILA 30 Under 30 honoree and founder of The Liberia Institute for the Promotion of Academic Excellence (LIPACE), a nonprofit that uses data-driven approaches to increase student achievement.

“Just imagine: For every 27 students in Liberia, there is only one textbook. This means for every 1,000 students, only four students will have the required core subjects textbooks collection,” says Freeman. “It is nearly four times cheaper to own a mobile phone in Liberia than a set of primary school textbooks, and nearly six times cheaper than a set of secondary school textbooks.”

Without access to these textbooks, students have a very low chance of passing the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) exam, which determines if they will pursue further education after secondary school. Typically, only 50% of students pass.

Enter LIPACE’s latest initiative: iSolve. Still a work in progress, iSolve is Liberia’s first mobile system for accessing educational content. Through text message requests, students will have access to learning materials across all grade levels and core subjects, a comprehensive exam preparation guide, exam practice questions, performance scores, and help from “expert teachers.”

Freeman hopes iSolve will help fill the gaps in Liberia’s education system, lingering wounds from a 14-year civil war. Despite the country’s progress, schools are still characterized by inadequate infrastructure, insufficient staff and supplies, and outdated teaching methods. The overall youth and adult literacy rates both fall below 50%.

“In this period of socioeconomic renewal, it is imperative for Liberians not only to reverse the brain drain but also to address the systemic collapse of our educational system,” says Freeman. “I founded LIPACE based on the belief that a nation’s human capital is its most important resource.”

In recognition of ILD, we invite you to nominate a literacy champion for ILA’s next 30 Under 30 list. Founded in 2015, the program shines a spotlight on young innovators, disruptors, and visionaries who are leading efforts to overcome the challenges of today’s education field and to advance our vision of a literate world for all. If you know someone who is under the age of 30 (as of March 1, 2019) and who has shown extraordinary dedication to ILA’s mission, we invite you to complete a short nomination form here. All nominations must be received by 11:59 p.m. ET on June 1, 2018.

Alina O'Donnell is the editor of
Literacy Daily.

Leave a comment

Back to Top


Recent Posts