Bobby Konneh

Bobby is a father of three sons, all of whom attend a Bridge Liberia School in Harper, Maryland County. He runs a kiosk on the high street, selling food and drink, whilst his wife Amenate has a clothes shop. Bobby, Amenate and their eldest son Mamadi (pictured above with Bobby) share their experiences before and since starting at Bridge.

Bobby notices one of the big changes has been punctuality and attendance. “Before they didn’t used to go to school on time but now they do” he explains. Amenate thinks this is down to discipline. She says that in the children’s old school there was none, but now if children miss a day the parents are called meaning, “children are in school every day.” She also says that there is less disturbance during the school day, because there aren’t constant visits from friends and family like there used to be.

This structure applies to the teachers as well, Amenate emphasises. She highlights absenteeism as having been a massive problem before, saying that her children sometimes went up to seven days without a teacher. However, since Bridge Liberia began managing the school, Amenate points out that teachers “have a lesson plan for every day,” meaning that the teachers “have to be in class” and so their attendance is much better.

The family have also seen a lot of improvements when it comes to learning. “Even down to their writing it’s better,” Bobby explains. “The reading was not good before but now it’s improving.” He is especially impressed by Mamadi who, “never used to speak well,” he says, but he’s now much more confident in his spoken English.

Mamadi himself thinks this is down to the new teaching methods. “I like the explanation of the teachers,” he says, “Before I always used to take notes, but now I get an explanation as well.” He’s proud of his skills in maths, saying he’s always the first to understand his teacher. If he doesn’t understand though, he makes sure to ask for an explanation and his teacher is happy to help. “He always smiles,” Mamadi says.

“Things have changed a lot,” Amenate concludes, “I feel very happy and comfortable they are at Bridge.” Mamadi is firmly in agreement with his mother. “The school is very good,” he says, “I see many changes.”